Scientists were performing a necropsy Thursday on the carcass of a 40-foot whale that floated into Port Hueneme this week after possibly being struck by a ship.
The whale, which appeared to have been dead for a while, was discovered Tuesday near a military ship at Naval Base Ventura County, said base spokeswoman Kimberly Gearhart.
"It doesn't happen every day," she said. "It's a 'smell it before you see it' sort of thing."
Soon after authorities spotted the whale, scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service were called in to inspect the carcass, take tissue samples and determine a cause of death.
The whale, possibly a fin whale, has since been towed out of the harbor and was beached Wednesday night on the shores of the base.
Scientists believe the whale was possibly struck by a ship before it floated into the port.
Once the necropsy is completed Thursday night, Gearhart said the carcass would be towed 25 miles offshore and set adrift.