clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Officials Have a Disgusting Plan to Remove the San Onofre Whale Carcass

New, 2 comments

The body of a gray whale that washed up on shore will be chopped into pieces and taken to a landfill

A gray whale carcass washed up on shore at San Onofre State Beach over the weekend, giving curious visitors a rare opportunity to see one of the largest animals in the world up close. Now, however, it's getting pretty smelly, and the Orange County Register reports that the remains could lure sharks to the popular surf spot. Don't worry, though, state parks officials have a plan: just cut the whale into pieces and haul them off to a landfill.

If this sounds more like something a murderer would do on an episode of Forensic Files, know that state parks Public Safety Superintendent Kevin Pearsall isn't thrilled about the idea either. "If that is what ends up being done to it, it's going to be very messy," he tells the LA Times. "It's going to be probably upsetting to kids." Marine biologist and research boat captain Mike Bursk agrees, telling the Register that the whale will soon reach a point in the decomposition process "where an indescribable muck will come out. It will be just hideous... like a stew."

Why have officials chosen such a revolting method for removing the whale? Well, mostly it's because they don't have much choice in the matter. "It couldn’t have washed up in a worse place," state parks Superintendent Rich Haydon tells the Register. Because the beach is very small, burying the whale in the sand (a common option for carcass removal) is not an option. Pulling it back out to sea probably also won't work; tides are likely to bring it back onto shore. The Register notes that in the 1970s, Oregon state highway officials learned the hard way that blowing up a whale carcass with dynamite is not an effective removal technique.

Officials are expected to start removing the whale as soon as tomorrow, dropping the pieces off at a nearby landfill. "It's not the greatest thing," Pearsall tells the Times, "but it's unfortunately where these large animals end up at some point, due to their size and lack of space for them."