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After removing the rotting whale carcass from beach, crews decontaminate sand

The process of removing a whale carcass from the shoreline along San Onofre State Beach begins Thursday morning. The whale died at sea before washing up April 24 near Lower Trestles, a popular surfing destination near the Orange County-San Diego County border.

The process of removing a whale carcass from the shoreline along San Onofre State Beach begins Thursday morning. The whale died at sea before washing up April 24 near Lower Trestles, a popular surfing destination near the Orange County-San Diego County border.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

After removing the estimated 60,000-pound carcass of a rotting whale from a San Clemente beach, crews then took on the task of decontaminating the sand below.

A contractor working for the state parks department spent two days using an excavator to cut up the 40-foot whale, which was hauled off to a San Diego County landfill.

The end of the two-day, $30,000 project on Friday included skimming the top layer of sand off the Lower Trestles, a surfing beach near San Clemente where the whale washed ashore Sunday.

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That was to eliminate any sand contaminated by the whale’s body fluids.

“As they started to dismember the carcass, they said it was messy, but it wasn’t as messy as it could have been,” Rich Haydon, area state parks superintendent, told the Orange County Register.

“It’s to be expected there will be a little bit of a smell down there for a while,” he said, “but I think we dodged a bullet.”

The whale was a tourist attraction for a few days. Despite the overpowering stench, some people skipped work or school to snap photos with the towering carcass.

However, few people were on hand Friday for the finish.

Nick Lind of Newport Beach and Matthew Howell of San Clemente were surfing as the last remnants of the whale were being removed.

“It did have an interesting stench to it, sort of like a rotten baked potato,” Lind said. “It was overpowering when we were near shore.”

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