Long Beach Fire Department personnel discovered the 70-foot whale in a shipping channel about 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Coast Guard later tied the carcass to the private pier to prevent it from being struck by propellers from passing ships.
"We don't know the gender,'' said Michael Milstein, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman, adding that it could be a Fin whale, which migrates north to south this time of year.
NOAA officials arrived to examine the mammal on Thursday and were attempting to determine how it died. Afterward, they will likely have it towed offshore and sunk in the ocean.
"It has abrasions on its midsection which could possibly be from a ship strike," Milstein said.
Longshoreman Robert Wargo said he had not previously encountered a whale in that area of the port.
"Sometimes schools of porpoises will come in here and chase the bait fish. And of course there's seals," he said. "But no whales - never seen a whale come in here, no."
City News Service contributed to this report.