Malibu residents have rotting whale towed away
A wildlife expert said it was likely the Malibu fin whale died after being hit by a ship.
The Associated Press
MALIBU, Calif. — No government agency took action to remove the decaying fin-whale carcass on a California beach, making it appear Saturday that the job would be left to Mother Nature.
But a homeowners' association took charge instead, hiring a tugboat to tow the dead creature out to sea.
The whale corpse created a spectacle last week as people wandered down the narrow Malibu Beach to look at the remains: white bones, rolls of blubber and the tail flukes trailing along the water's edge.
Homes of movie stars, celebrities and others line the cliffs high above the beach.
Looking over the whale Saturday, Malibu resident Ben Dossett said he saw no reason to remove it. "You look at the difference between what it was on Tuesday to what it is today," he said.
The smell had largely faded away, but it still attached to the shoes of those who came near. Some people took pictures, a boy poked the bones and dogs sniffed it.
The 40-foot-long, 40,000-pound juvenile male washed ashore Monday near Point Dume, near the homes of Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan, about 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.
"From the evidence that we have so far, it appears that it was hit by a ship," said Jonsie Ross, marine-mammal coordinator for the California Wildlife Center.
Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Brian Riley said the hired tugboat towed the carcass about 20 miles from shore Saturday. Fire Department lifeguards patrol beaches in Malibu, but Riley said the homeowners did not take up the lifeguards' offer to help with the towing.
James Respondek, a local real-estate agent, said he worried the carcass, if left alone, would draw sharks that could endanger a surfing area and swimmers like his young daughter.
Government officials declined to get involved, he said. " 'I don't have a boat, I don't have the money, I don't have the resources' they all told me."