Whale carcass towed back to sea in Malibu

On Saturday, the remains of a 40,000-pound fin whale that washed up on Malibu beach were towed back out to sea. The whale's injuries suggest it was hit by a boat.

Nick Ut/AP
A woman walks her dog past a dead young male fin whale that washed up Monday between the Paradise Cove and Point Dume areas of Malibu, Calif. on Thursday. The rotting carcass near celebrity homes caused a gigantic cleanup problem as authorities tried to decide who was responsible for getting rid of it.

A tugboat towed the decomposing carcass of a whale from a Malibu beach out to sea, several days after it washed ashore and created a stench near the homes of movie stars and millionaires.

The remains of the 40,000-pound fin whale were towed Saturday about 20 miles from shore by a crew hired by a homeowners' association, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Brian Riley said.

The 40-foot-long juvenile male washed ashore Monday near Point Dume, attracting onlookers who wandered down the narrow beach to look at the remains — white bones, rolls of blubber and the tail flukes trailing along the water's edge. Massive estates line the cliffs high above the beach.

Jonsie Ross, marine mammal coordinator for the California Wildlife Center, said an inspection of the whale's injury suggests it was hit by a ship.

No government agency took action to remove the decomposing whale, and it appeared the job would be left to Mother Nature.

The prospect frustrated James Respondek, who worried that the carcass would draw sharks and pose a threat to his young daughter, who swims in the cove, and to his favorite surfing spot down the beach.

"There seems to be no readiness to take responsibility, to take action, just a lot of excuses. 'I don't have a boat, I don't have the money, I don't have the resources,' they all told me," he said Friday.

The Fire Department's lifeguards patrol beaches in Malibu, but the homeowners' association did not take their offer to assist with the towing, Riley said.

Fin whales are endangered, and about 2,300 live along the West Coast. They're the second-largest species of whale after blue whales and can grow up to 85 feet, weigh up to 80 tons and live to be 90 years old.

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