Oregon Public Broadcasting

Officials are investigating the controversial death of a young female orca from a pod of the endangered mammals in Puget Sound. The orca washed up near Washington's Long Beach in February.

?Preliminary reports suggest the whale suffered extensive hemorrhaging in the soft tissues of the chest, head and right side of her body.

That has some orca experts suspecting the injuries may be from an underwater explosion or other human activity.

Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation.

Vicki Nomura is heading the effort.

She explained, "The toughest part of conducting an investigation like that is proving the actual violation. When you have a dead marine mammal there's very little information."

L112 may have been dead for a week before she came ashore. That makes it difficult to pinpoint where she was when she died.

The Navy is permitted to conduct missile practice in it's training range off the Northwest coast - an area where orcas are known to spend time.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.