A southern resident killer whale found dead near Sechelt in December 2016 died of blunt trauma, according to necropsy results released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada on Monday.

The approximately 18-year-old male orca, identified as J34 and nicknamed Doublestuff, was found dead on Dec. 20, 2016.

According to the necropsy results, an examination found that the killer whale had “injuries consistent with blunt trauma to the dorsal side, and a hematoma indicating that it was alive at the time of injury and would have survived the initial trauma for a period of time prior to death.”

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the blunt force trauma was likely inflicted in a ship strike.

The final necropsy report for J34 confirmed the original evaluation of researchers that the whale was killed by a ship strike. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The final necropsy report for J34 confirmed the original evaluation of researchers that the whale was killed by a ship strike. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

J34 was considered in moderate to good body condition and there were no apparent abnormalities or lesions, which may have predisposed J34 to the injury. Representative tissues have been collected for additional testing.

At the time of the discovery, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said initial examinations of the seven-metre orca indicted that it was alive when struck and died sometime later.

Even though the necropsy report was last updated on May 23, 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the report wasn’t made public, as per policy. . However, media requests were made this week.

There are 76 southern resident killer whales remaining. They are listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

With files from Karin Larsen, CBC

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