- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - A 15-foot-long pilot whale has died after stranding itself on a Hilton Head Island beach.

Officials say the whale was found around 6 a.m. Thursday by someone on the beach at Port Royal Plantation. More than half a dozen people tried to push the 700-pound whale back into the water, but it died shortly thereafter.

Authorities say they did a necropsy on the whale but could not determine what caused the whale to beach itself. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association marine mammal technician Jessica Conway says it will take several weeks to get results from tests for viruses or other conditions that could have led to the whale’s death.

This was the first pilot whale stranded on Beaufort County shores since 2012, when one was found on Hunting Island.

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