DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -

A dead sperm whale that washed up under the Deerfield Beach Pier was towed away Monday afternoon, but not before crowds flooded the beach to see the massive animal.

"I've lived here my whole life and I've never seen this before," said Kelly Yount. "It's really sad."

"When I heard that a whale washed up on my shore of Deerfield Beach, I rushed over here," said Dan Read.

"This is unbelievable," said Deerfield Beach Mayor Peggy Noland. "When they said that there was a whale, I assumed maybe 15 feet."

The 30-foot whale was first spotted Sunday near Pompano Beach.

"It was floating out to sea and we didn't know what would happen to it," said Liz Stratton with NOAA. "We've got people on alert, responders on standby, just in case something like this happened."

A backhoe pushed the whale off the shore as a boat towed it away.

Stratton said NOAA took samples of the corpse to try and determine how it died.

"We will conduct an animal autopsy, which is called an necropsy, and we will sample all of the animal's organ systems, we will check it for trauma, like boat strike or disease, and all of those samples will be sent out to be analyzed and we will just try and find out what happened," said Stratton.

Stratton said finding a beached whale is fairly rare. In the last 10 years, nine whales have washed ashore on the Atlantic side of Florida's coast.