A dead humpback whale washed up on a beach has inflated like a balloon and could explode, sending blood and guts flying.

The young female, dubbed "Spike" by scientists, was found on Malcolm Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Rescuers remain unsure as to how she died and she shows no signs of external injuries.

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There is a risk that Spike, measuring around 10 metres, could explode due to gases building up inside the animal during the decomposition process.

Several washed up whales have exploded in the past and actual explosives have been used in some cases to clear beaches.

A horrible example was reported in Tainan City, Taiwan, in 2004 when a 60-ton sperm whale blasted passers-by with its insides. It also left a rancid stench.

Jackie Hildering, a humpback researcher at the Marine Education and Research Society, told Newsweek: "The inflation of Spike's body is completely normal.

"It is caused by gas created by decomposition inside the body of the animal."

As it an extremely rare occurrence for seemingly untouched humpback whale carcasses to wash up, researchers have descended on Malcolm Island to determine a cause of death and analyse the corpse.

Spike has now been tethered down so it doesn't float away, allowing this research to be conducted.

Luckily for those working on the animal, Spike appears to be deflating slowly rather than threatening to pop and cover them with innards.

"By yesterday evening, the distended belly and throat of this whale had already gone down compared to earlier photos," Hildering said.

Whales typically deflate like this before sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

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Spike was discovered by Andrew Pinch and his family while they were walking their dogs on the remote beach.

He told local media: "It hurt because we take the kids to the beach… and we'll see whales very, very often from the beach. It's really upsetting to see one dead."

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