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Decaying carcass of 22-ton whale just won’t leave Orange County coast

For the fourth time this week, Orange County authorities Thursday towed a dead 22-ton humpback whale out to sea after it floated too close to shore.

Lifeguards saw the decaying carcass a few miles off Cotton’s Point beach in San Clemente and decided they needed to intervene or risk the late mammal washing up on the sand.

“We decided to tow it further out to sea,” said Todd Lewis, California State Parks superintendent for the Orange Coast District.

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The dead whale, named Wally by biologists who had tracked it while it was alive, has been a frequent sight off the Orange County coast recently.

On Wednesday, boaters called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol around 12:30 p.m. to say the carcass was dangerously close to Dana Point Harbor, sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter said.

A Harbor Patrol boat quickly arrived to pull the body back out to sea.

“It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get the whale about 10 miles offshore before we detached the line in hopes that nature would take care of itself,” Stichter said.

Earlier this week, Newport Beach lifeguards twice towed the carcass about 10 miles out to sea, fearing it would wash ashore near the Newport Pier.

Wally first made headlines when its body was found on Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles County on June 30. The carcass was pushed back into the ocean and towed out to sea.

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