Workers on Thursday began the process of cutting up and carting off a 40-foot whale carcass that washed up at San Onofre State Beach in Orange County earlier this week, a California state parks official said.
Kevin Pearsall, a public safety superintendent for California state parks in Orange County, said the vendor began working around 8 a.m. Thursday to remove the carcass, a process that could take up to two days.
“We continue to recommend that everybody stay away,” said Pearsall, who has warned that the removal process likely will be gruesome and especially upsetting to children.
The whale died at sea before washing up Sunday near Lower Trestles, a popular surfing destination near the Orange County-San Diego County border. A throng of tourists and curious locals have swarmed the area in recent days as officials tried to figure out how to remove the giant mammal.
Pearsall said removal crews likely will need to shut down a 300-yard stretch of the beach as they bring in large machinery to cut apart and ultimately clear away the whale. Officials initially considered towing the whale into the open ocean, but feared its remains would simply drift back to the beach.
Ultimately, the whale’s remains likely will end up at an area landfill, according to Pearsall, who said the animals wash up on California State Park land once or twice a year.
Oregon likely holds the record for the most nightmare-inducing removal of a beached whale.
In 1970, Oregon Highway officials used a cache of dynamite to eliminate a whale carcass that washed up on a beach near Florence, Ore., sending a torrent of bloody blubber raining across the area. Long thought to be an urban legend, the story gained traction when humorist Dave Barry wrote about the exploding whale in the 1990s.
Footage from the original KATU report on the incident was uploaded to YouTube in 2008, and the video has garnered over 2 million hits.
Times staff writer Brittny Mejia contributed to this report.
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in Southern California.