WHALE: The 79-foot female blue whale that washed ashore in Bolinas last week may have been with its calf when a ship struck it, breaking numerous ribs and leading to its death. R   Anna O'Malley

Twenty-five scientists and volunteers clad in thick rubber pants and boots gathered at Agate Beach in Bolinas last Saturday morning, preparing to cut up the body of a 79-foot, stranded female blue whale to determine its cause of death.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” said Barbie Halaska, a research assistant at the Marine Mammal Center . . .