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Scientists Study Carcass of Pregnant Fin Whale That Washed Ashore in San Diego

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Last week, a pregnant fin whale washed ashore in San Diego, and now scientists are using the whale's death as an opportunity to study how its body affects the ecosystem of the ocean floor.

But trying to do that has been quite a production. The 70-ton, 67-foot pregnant carcass washed ashore on Sunday. The fetus was expelled on Tuesday. On Wednesday, a ship owned by Virgin Oceanic towed the carcass from Point Loma to Fiesta Island where it could be studied. (It turns out the whale was killed when a ship hit it.) On Friday morning, the carcass was towed back out several miles from the shoreline 800 meters down and sunk with steel.

The whole process has drawn crowds who want to check out the massive (and apparently stinky) carcass.

Scientists at the Scripps Submarine Canyon plan to study the decomposing carcass and learn about how it changes the ecosystem where it lands, according to a local Fox affiliate in San Diego.

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"There are all these organisms that only live on whale carcasses that turn up,'' executive director of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Nigella Hillgarth said. "Hopefully we'll get really exciting information from that.''