SAN DIEGO — Crews began the process Thursday of removing a 57-foot dead fin whale that reappeared on San Diego County’s shoreline after being towed out to sea.
Crews used heavy machinery to tear into the whale’s body. It’s not a pretty sight — but it’s an exciting opportunity for scientists.
“Having not that many of these animals come ashore over time – any opportunity to gain any information is something we’d like to try to do to learn about these whales,” said Justin Viezbicke of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The whale’s body first showed up May 19 in Point Loma and was towed out to sea in hopes that sharks would feed on it. But the tow-line broke and the whale floated back to shore over the weekend at Border Field State Park near the U.S./Mexico border.
“The four options were to leave it on the beach, let it decay over time, to tow it out and let it go, tow it out and sink it or to take it off the beach like we’re doing now,” said Viezbicke.
Scientists began an exploratory necropsy, salvaging as many whale parts as possible for research and education before disposing of the remaining carcass at a landfill.
The cause of the death of the whale is not expected to be determined definitively because of advancing decay.
The process of the necropsy — the animal version of a human autopsy — and the whale’s removal may be completed as early as Friday.