Dead whale makes stink near Streisand’s Malibu home

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It was a magnificent beast when it washed ashore under the bluffs in Malibu: A 40-foot fin whale, a male, dark gray on top, a rich cream below that glistened in the surf and sun.

“It was sad to see it out of the water,” said Jeff Hall, marine mammal coordinator with the California Wildlife Center, a nonprofit wildlife hospital. “But it was a beautiful animal. It was in really, really great condition.”

By Thursday … not so much.

After four days of being pounded by the surf, devoured by seagulls, poked at by gawkers and probed during a necropsy, magnificence had given way to a decomposing mess of protruding bones and ghastly strips of blubber — and a full-fledged state of government paralysis.

“There isn’t really a protocol for this,” Hall said.

The 40,000-pound whale, which is endangered but a not-uncommon sight off the Southern California coast, washed up Monday at Little Dume, a small beach between Paradise Cove and Point Dume State Beach. The spit of sand is at the foot of a towering cliff, below Barbra Streisand’s neighborhood — massive estates of groomed lawns, swimming pools and tennis courts.


The lifeguards said they were game but weren’t sure what to do. The city of Malibu said the county would probably take care of it, but the county insisted that Little Dume is a private beach, which it is not. Then local officials said the state might take care of it, but the nearest state property appeared to be nearly a mile to the southwest.

“There have been some issues with jurisdiction,” said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Quvondo Johnson.

As decomposition set in, officials on Thursday said that towing the carcass to sea was no longer an option.

“It’ll just break apart and make a big mess,” said Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

If that’s the case, remnants of the whale could be around for days to come.


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-- Scott Gold in Los Angeles and Matt Stevens in Malibu