A 26-foot basking shark Tuesday was washed ashore on Gilgo Beach in Babylon, a city on Long Island in New York. It was alive at the time but died shortly after.

From Newsday:

It’s unclear why the shark died, but researchers believe it was ill or had been injured. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation will determine the cause of death, state parks spokesman George Gorman said.

Tracy Marcus of Cornell Cooperative Extension told The Associated Press the dead shark weighed about a ton. She said it is unusual for ailing basking sharks to come ashore.

No one is allowed to kill basking sharks, an important species that researchers are eager to study, Chapman said.

Most of the shark will be buried, but much of it will be cut up and distributed to biologists worldwide to study, said Demian Chapman, assistant professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.