A 75-foot whale carcass that washed up on a San Diego beach on Sunday is believed to be the same one that was towed away from a different California beach last week.
The dead fin whale was originally found last Monday at a rocky cove on Point Loma, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Marine Conservation Institute took ownership of the whale and began towing it out to sea on Wednesday, initially with the hope of using it as bait to attract and tag female white sharks during their birthing season, the institute said on its Facebook page. But the mission was shut down by the State of California, despite federal support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
After being halted in its research efforts, the institute said on Friday that it would do its best to “steer the carcass into waters where it [would] not return to the beach.” That’s before the towing line snapped due to rough seas. The whale was drifting south when the incident occurred, the institute said in a Facebook post, and the the current ended up taking the whale back to shore. This time it washed up about 1 mile north of the border with Mexico.
The dead whale was found at Imperial Beach on Sunday and is now the responsibility of the State Parks Department, NBC San Diego reports. State authorities are still figuring out how to dispose of the decaying animal, which is starting to stink.
“They’re the ones who told us we couldn’t do what we wanted to do, and it’s now on their beach,” Michael Domeier, president of the institute, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Susan Chivers, a research biologist with NOAA told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the best disposal method would be to either bury it or to move it to a landfill and let it rot.
Whales are large animals and we’ve seen before that removing them is not easy.
It’s not clear what killed the fin whale in the first place, although lifeguards speculated that the whale might have been hit by a ship, according to ABC local affiliate in San Diego.
The number one threat facing fin whales is “collisions with vessels,” NOAA reports, followed by “entanglement in fishing gear” and “reduced prey abundance due to overfishing.”
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