A dead whale that washed up onshore in the Chadwick Beach section of Toms River was being removed from the beach by heavy equipment by 6 p.m. Wednesday, as researchers from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center search for the reason it died.

Initially, it appears that a ship strike may have injured – and possibly killed – the massive marine mammal, which drew a crowd on the foggy beach Wednesday.

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Officials from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, based in Brigantine, began cutting up the whale’s body so it could be removed and a necropsy could be performed. The center said late Wednesday that the ship strike seemed the most likely cause of death.