The body of a dead whale is seen of the surface of the sea by the harbor of Sorrento, after Italian coastguard scuba divers followed a whale calf that was in distress, in Sorrento, Italy, Jan. 19, 2021.
The body of a dead whale is seen of the surface of the sea by the harbor of Sorrento, after Italian coastguard scuba divers followed a whale calf that was in distress, in Sorrento, Italy, Jan. 19, 2021. (Antonino Maresca AMP Punta Campanella/Handout)

The Italian Coast Guard said Thursday a young whale led them to recover the carcass of a huge fin whale, one of the largest species found in the Mediterranean Sea, off southern port city of Sorrento.

In a release, the coast guard said they discovered the carcass Sunday after being alerted to a young whale apparently in distress. After following the whale, coast guard divers discovered the submerged carcass of what they determined was an adult fin whale.

The coast guard said once the carcass surfaced, it took two patrol boats several hours to secure it and then, hampered by rough sea conditions, at least two days to tow the dead animal it into the port of Naples.

Biologists will study the animal remains to determine the cause of death. Officials are considering putting the whale’s skeleton on display in a museum. Meanwhile, the coast guard says it will keep a watch out for the younger whale to monitor its condition.

After the blue whale, fin whales are the next largest species of great whale, growing to more than 24 meters in length and weighing as much as 72 metric tons.