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A Dead Whale Washed Ashore At Dockweiler Beach Last Night

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A deceased humpback whale floated ashore Thursday night at Dockweiler State Beach, near LAX. The 45-foot-long whale was first spotted just before 8 p.m. according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Lifeguard Division. KTLA reports that initial efforts last night to tow the carcass back to sea last night were unsuccessful, leaving officials in a tricky situation for a long holiday weekend. Dockweiler is a popular spot for beachgoers and campers alike, and it's also a favorite viewing spot for the Marina Del Rey 4th of July fireworks show.

“It’s starting to smell... and decompose pretty rapidly,” county lifeguard Capt. Ken Haskett told the L.A. Times.

According to the LACFD, the cause of death for the female whale, who is estimated to be between 10 and 20 years, remains unknown. The deceased animal is “the size of two or three Chevy Tahoes and the weight of three or four [Tahoes],” according to Haskett. Caution tape is currently in place around the carcass, and authorities have warned the public to stay at least 200 feet away.

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According to the Times, lifeguards are currently deciding between three disposal options for the deceased animal:


The first and best option is to tow the carcass out to sea Friday night at high tide, about 7:36 p.m. when the tide is more than six feet high, Haskett said. There, it can decompose naturally, he said. But if the whale is too big or too heavy, then two other options have to be considered, Haskett said. Officials either will have to haul the whale to an undisclosed location and bury it, or chop it up then haul it to a landfill, Haskett said.

We are all hoping to avoid that last option, which, as anyone who remembers the San Onofre Gray Whale Situation of April 2016 knows, is not pretty.

Blowing it up is, presumably, off the table.

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Update [2:05 p.m.]: The male female (as evidenced in several photos like the one above) humpback whale was previously tagged in August and was named "Wally." Authorities plan on using a bulldozer to push Wally when the tide rolls in this evening, and tow his carcass out to sea and let nature take its course. "Its body is pretty bloated, it will float," Capt. Ken Haskett of the L.A. County Lifeguards told the L.A. Times.

LAist contributor Matt Tinoco was at Dockweiler around noon today and provided photos of Wally and the crowd that was there to witness the spectacle. Tinoco reports that the smell downwind was "pretty rank" but said it was fine upwind.