Scientists in San Diego have a dilemma on their hands: what to do with a dead male fin whale that washed up near the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 50 foot long dead whale was spotted by people working at the plant and a passerby on Monday. At first, it was planned to move the carcass to Fiesta Island where people from NOAA National Marine Fisheries and other scientific interests can study it and do a necropsy. But, that has been postponed and new options are being considered.
Fin whales are the second largest animals on the planet and can grow up to 85 feet. They are found in most oceans in the world, usually in deeper water far offshore. The whale that washed up Monday morning was presumed to have been hit by a ship and dragged closer to shore as the ship moved. This was not the first time a fin whale has washed up on the shores of San Diego. Back in 2011, a pregnant fin whale washed up in the same area. Her calf didn't survive. It is suspected that she, too, was hit by a passing ship and dragged close to her final resting place.
Researchers have already taken samples from the whale for study. It was originally hoped that the whale would wash out with the tides or a boat would tow the carcass away on Tuesday during high tide. That ended up not happening and, on Wednesday, the whale hasn't moved or been moved. Plans to move the whale to Fiesta Island and, later, retired to a landfill like they did with the previous fin whale did not seem feasible. One of the current plans being discussed is to tow the carcass about twenty miles offshore so that natural scavengers, such as ocean fish, can feed on it.