The City of Pacifica announced Monday it will be working with the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department to bury the two dead whales that washed up on Sharp Park Beach during a three-week period. City officials said the smell of the rotting flesh was becoming a "quality of life" issue for residents.
The smell from the whale carcasses became so bad that city officials asked Parks and Rec last week to help them come up with an alternative to letting the animals decompose naturally.
The first whale — an adult sperm whale — washed up on April 14 and the second one — a female humpback — was found on May 5, about half a mile from where the first one was found.
Their removal was tangled up in a jurisdictional tug-of-war, while city officials tried to figure out whether the first whale's body lies on the property of the city of Pacifica, the federal Golden Gate National Recreation Area that embodies Mori Point, the city and county of San Francisco's Recreation and Park District that owns a golf course nearby, or the state of California. Meanwhile, birds pecked away at the decaying flesh, which gave off a horrific stench.
It was eventually determined that while the whales had washed up on what is commonly referred to as Pacifica Beach, the area is under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. The Sharp Golf Course, located just east of the beach, also falls under San Francisco’s jurisdiction.
“The decision was initially made by San Francisco to allow the whales to decompose, a method echoed as appropriate by marine biologists studying the whales,” said Pacifica interim police chief Daniel Steidle, adding that the odor eventually prompted the need for a more “desirable disposition.”
A timeline for the whale burials has not yet been released.