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Dead whale washes up at Bolsa Chica State Beach

People, some in white protective gear, surround an adult whale carcass on a wet beach
Scientists from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Beach take samples and study an endangered fin whale that washed up Wednesday at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
(Raul Roa / Times Community News)

A 65-foot dead whale was found washed up on Bolsa Chica State Beach on Wednesday.

The carcass of the adult female fin whale remained on the beach Thursday near Lifeguard Tower 17. California State Parks representative Kevin Pearsall said Thursday morning that it would likely take at least a couple of days before it is removed from the beach.

“We are going to remove it,” Pearsall said. “We’re not even going to bury it because it’s so big. It will be removed by a designated removal company that takes it to a landfill.”

Pearsall said officials with the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were headed to Huntington Beach to investigate.

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Workers from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, located in Laguna Beach, also were on site Thursday to gather samples from the fin whale, which is an endangered species.

“It’s proving to be just a little bit difficult, just because the whale is pretty decomposed,” said Krysta Higuchi, public relations manager of the marine mammal center. “But we’re trying to take this sad incident and gather as much research and knowledge as we can, trying to get more metrics and life history of this animal. We don’t normally get this opportunity to get these types of samples from these animals.”

People crouch near the decomposing tail fin of a whale carcass on a beach
Scientists from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach take samples and study an endangered fin whale that washed up at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
(Raul Roa / Times Community News)

Higuchi said the whale is believed to be the mother in a mother-and-daughter pair that were killed off the coast of San Diego by an Australian Royal Navy vessel, the HMAS Sydney, and were found May 8.

After the initial discovery of the dead pair, the mother whale’s carcass was towed offshore. Pacific Shore Expeditions reported that the carcass was being feasted on by blue sharks near San Clemente Island last week.

With the weekend approaching, Pearsall said he encourages beachgoers to stay away.

“It is incredibly wretched smelling because of its decomposing state,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of people lose it from the smell and vomit, so they need to be prepared and stay away from it. It’s been out to sea for a while now dead.”

Szabo writes for Times Community News. Times Community News photo editor Raul Roa contributed to this report.

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