MALIBU, Calif. (KTLA) — A rotting whale carcass was pulled out to sea Saturday by a private tugboat hired by Malibu residents who were sick of the smell, officials said.
The 40-foot fin whale washed ashore at Little Dume Beach on Monday, already dead. It had suffered a wound to the back, possibly from a collision with a boat.
In the subsequent days, the surf and the wind eroded the carcass, as officials bickered about whose responsibility it was to dispose of the dead animal.
The city of Malibu had assumed Los Angeles County officials would remove the whale, but the county said Little Dume is a private beach, and therefore not their responsibility.
Other Malibu officials said the state might take care of it, but the nearest state property appeared to be nearly a mile away.
Finally, a local homeowners association stepped in and hired a tugboat to move the carcass on Saturday night.
The tug towed the carcass some 20 miles offshore –- far enough that the remains are not expected to reappear, Fire Inspector Brian Riley said.
He said he could not provide the names of the homeowners association or the private company.
Previously, state and local officials said they weren’t sure they could accomplish the feat before higher tides arrived over the weekend.
They had also considered burying the whale or carving it into chunks and setting it afire.
Malibu residents soon began complaining that the stench had filled the area surrounding Little Dume, the small beach between Paradise Cove and Point Dume State Beach.
By late Thursday, a state official said authorities had decided towing the carcass to sea was no longer feasible because it would break apart.
Fin whales, the second largest behind blue whales, can grow to be about 85 feet. It’s estimated that about 2,300 live off the coast of California.
They are baleen whales, meaning they use sieve-like structures in their mouths to filter food from the water.