Thanks to a local businessman and some fed-up homeowners, a private firm towed a rotting whale carcass off of a Malibu beach and out to sea Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
The remains of the 41-foot fin whale are floating approximately 20 miles off the Malibu coast Sunday, after Malibu residents took up a collection and hired a private firm to remove it from the beach.
The fin whale, which washed up on the beach Monday, had been killed by a ship. Although officials had hoped to start the removal process by Thursday, a bureaucratic mess over whose jurisdiction the rotting carcass was impacting delayed its removal until this weekend.
“It’s not physically capable of being moved because of its condition,” Kevin Marble, of the LA county fire department, told Malibu Patch. “It’s so embedded in sand that they won’t be able to get it out. The body will be pulled apart.”
There are several ways to deal with a rotting whale carcass, according to officials. The remains can be towed out to sea or they can be hidden in the sand. For Malibu residents, the best and most cost-effective option was to find a way to tow it far enough out to sea that it would not float back to shore.
According NBC Los Angeles, a private firm was hired to tow the massive whale out to sea. Bob Morris, a nearby restaurant owner, reportedly paid a significant percentage of the fee to have it towed off the beach but residents near the carcass told Malibu Patch that homeowners also helped pay the fee.
According to NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources, fin whales can grow up to 85 feet in length and weigh as much as 80 tons (they are the second-largest species of whales). Although little is known about their social and mating systems, NOAA says that fin whales are found in social groups of 2-7 whales and are fast swimmers.
The organization also notes that collisions are one of the biggest threats to populations of fin whales. Although commercial whaling for this species ended in the North Pacific Ocean in 1976, fin whales are most often reported as hit by ships.
The AP reports that the whale washed up onto the beach near several celebrity homes, including the home of musician Bob Dylan. Fortunately, no one decided that blowing up the whale would be a good idea. The AP notes that authorities blew up a whale in Florence, Oregon, in 1970 and blubber fell out of the sky as much as a quarter mile away.