Pro surfer Kelly Slater posted this image to his Instagram. “I wonder if they can/will tow this thing back out to sea before it completely decays in the rocks or do a necropsy on it. Anybody know? ” he posted. (@KellySlater/Instagram)
A dead 40-foot adult whale that washed up in Lower Trestles, a popular surf spot in san Clemente, last Monday has been removed. The state park looked for a week into how they would move the whale and what resources they had to get the job done.
“The best thing to do would be to take the whale in pieces to a landfill, but that would take too much work,” said Carrie Denel, a member of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Stranding Team a week prior to the removal.
After looking into their resources and budget, a contractor sent by the state parks department spent nearly two days cutting up the 60,000-pound whale, which was then sent off to the San Diego County landfill. This $30,000 project included skimming off the top layer of the sand that the whale had washed up to.
Members of the NOAA took blubber samples of the grey whale to test for toxins and try to determine where this whale had been. The cause of death is still not certain.
“It’s normal to have grey whales near during this period because they’re heading towards new feeding grounds,” said Denel, “and thankfully no external injuries are showing that it got hit.”
Onlookers positioned themselves upwind to avoid the stench, but for most the sight of the carcus was still shocking.
“Ive never seen anything like this before, how massive it is and how long it has taken them to cut through the thick blubber,” said Doug Fascenelli, a San Clemente local.
Now that is has been removed surfers can go back to their daily surfing routines that had come to a halt once the whale washed ashore.
“This is one of the most popular surfing spot in the world,” said permanent lifeguard Bill Pfeiffer, ” whale was definitely contributing as to why no ones down here surfing.”