What to Do With a 50-Ton Whale - NBC Bay Area

What to Do With a 50-Ton Whale

Nature taking its course now a tourist attraction



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    A 70-foot female blue whale, that officials believe was struck by a ship, is seen washed ashore on the Northern California coast Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009, near Fort Bragg, Calif. Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the whale was spotted on the shores near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County Monday night, hours after an ocean survey vessel reported hitting a whale a few miles away. The dead animal has a gash on its back estimated to be more than 8 feet long. (AP Photo/Larry Wagner)

     State officials have decided to let nature take its course when it comes to the carcass of a 70-foot blue whale that washed ashore along the Mendocino coast.

    Jerry Zari was among the first to spot the huge creature earlier this week.  It has since landed in the cove just outside his home.

    "When low tide came she was magnificently beautiful," said Zari. "I mean you could see the blue color. It was just a gorgeous animal."

    In the coming days that beauty will fade as the whale begins to bloat and decay, not to mention the stench.  But the Department of Fish and Game says it has no plans to move it back out to sea.

    Zari says he is overwhelmed by the fact that the whale, which weighs some 50 tons, landed on his doorstep .

    An ocean survey vessel reported hitting a whale Monday.  The 78-foot Pacific Star was just a few feet longer than the whale, but it won the battle.   Crew members said they were seven miles out and traveling about 5 knots when they felt a shudder.  Soon a very bloody whale surfaced and they realized what had happened.

    Blue whales are the world's largest mammals and usually swim off shore and in deep water.

    Experts say the find is a rare occurrence.

    "This is a big deal," said Thor Holmes, curator of the vertebrate museum at Humboldt State University and a member of the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network told the Press Democrat. 

    It's unusual for blue whales to wash ashore, but this is the second time it's happen in a week.  Another blue whale washed up in Monterey County after being hit by another ship.

    Although blue whales are considered endangered, experts say they have recently made a comeback and now number several thousand.

    Disposing of beached whales can be problematic. The following TV report shows how an Oregon county tried to use dynamite to blow up the carcass of a beached whale. As you might imagine, it wasn't very successful: