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Dead whale washes onshore for the second time

Live fin whale.  Fin whales are named for the "fin" on their back.
Live fin whale. Fin whales are named for the "fin" on their back.
Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The dead male fin whale that washed up near the Point Loma waste-water treatment plant last week showed up again in Border Field State Park. The fifty foot long fin whale, which is originally thought to have been hit by a ship, was towed out to sea last Wednesday. It was originally planned to have the whale towed out by lifeguards to about twenty miles to be fed on by fish and used to study sharks. After samples were taken by NOAA Fisheries, a ship towed the animal away from shore. But, that ship wasn’t able to take it out that far because the rope broke.

Last Sunday, during the Memorial Day weekend, the same whale washed up south of Imperial Beach in Border Field State Park. Already, it was decomposing and people in the area said that the smell was very strong. The dead whale has attracted a lot of attention by tourists which has caused a problem for other wildlife in the area. Snowy plovers and California least terns were nesting only a few hundred feet from the carcass. At least one snowy plover chick was spotted not far away from the carcass.

The curiosity about the dead whale has brought an increase in people in the area to see it. That also means extra state park law enforcement in the area and extra people to monitor and protect nesting birds. People were said to be climbing on or touching the decaying whale while people took photos of them. The whale has also attracted predators to the area including great white sharks and chick-eating gulls.

This afternoon, the whale was being carved up in preparation to taking parts of it to a landfill. While it is being cut up, a necropsy is being performed, though determining an exact cause of death will be difficult due to decay. Some of the carcass will be taken for study and education.