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Lifeguards: Towing Beached Whale Out to Sea Not an Option

L.A. County Lifeguards are working with other agencies to figure out a plan to remove a beached Fin whale from an exclusive Malibu beach.

A plan is being developed to remove a 40-foot beached whale that is rotting on Little Dume, one of Malibu's most exclusive beaches, according to Los Angeles County Lifeguards.

"It’s not physically capable of being moved because of its condition. It’s so embedded in sand that they won’t be able to get it out. The body will be pulled apart. There’s no way to pull it," Zuma Beach-based Rescue Boat Capt. Kevin Marble said in an interview with Malibu Patch.

The juvenile male Fin whale washed ashore on Monday at Little Dume in Malibu, and a necropsy, the term for an autopsy performed on an animal, took place Tuesday. Researchers determined that the whale had died in the past few days from injuries resulting from a ship strike, according to the California Wildlife Center.

Marble said that several agencies, including California State Parks, the City of Malibu and the county lifeguards, were working together to come up with a plan.

"It looks like it ended up in one of those locations that is so isolated and so difficult to access both from the beach side and from the water side that the solutions are not easy," Marble said.

He said that burial is likely the only option, but that may not be possible because of the rocky nature of the beach. The beach is private, but the whale is located below the mean high tide line, meaning it is on public property.

"If it can be done. It is so rocky. Are you going to be able to dig underground? You can’t tow it with a boat. You can’t tow it with any other vehicle. It has to be exhumed and moved and buried," Marble said.

A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game said the agency has not gotten involved.

Even if the whale was in good enough condition to be towed, he said that often causes problems for other beaches.

"When they’ve been viable enough to tow, they end up at somebody else’s doorstep and there is that further complaint," Marble said.

Marble did not give a time estimate on the removal, saying that a plan was working its way through the department.

"It’s unfortunate to be a resident in a location like that," he said.

Craig Sap of California State Parks confirmed that he has been in contact with several agencies about the whale.

"We don’t have a boat. We don’t have the resources to drag it off the beach," Sap said.

He said the best course of action is for the whale to be removed far out to sea.

"That carcass becomes food for some of the sharks and the other animals," Sap said.

Malibu Magoo December 09, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Especially after every imaginable state and local agency with possible jurisdiction -- real or claimed -- just shrugged and said "ain't our job". Once again, our tax $ at work... BTW, if the Marine Reserve mandate reads "...it is unlawful to injure, damage, take or possess any living, geological or cultural marine resource..." how does a dead, desecrated, decomposing whale fit towed out (waaaaaay out) to sea fit that description? I appreciate the respect the Pt Dume community showed toward that majestic beast before any more scavengers -- human and animal -- could pick at its carcass.
jamie p December 09, 2012 at 03:34 PM
bust out the popcorn.....
jamie p December 10, 2012 at 01:35 AM
From DFG website: "Disposal of dead marine mammals is considered a 'take' under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and must be reported to NMFS. Additionally, it is unlawful to take or possess parts of dead marine mammals without prior authorization from National Marine Fisheries Service." obviously some people have the resorces to get what they want. sure wish i could fund my own "take" privelige back! I think a marine reserve that is protected to such a degree that they ask people not to beach kayaks., because it'll kill sand crabs, ought to then accept mother natures bounty of nutrients from dead whales regardless of how unpleasant that may be. After all these MPAs were argued to be "nurseries". A natural gift of so much nutrients in one location is rare for the local marine community and any sharks it may attract is just part of the circle of life therein. like in the old days chumash would gather bones as tools and decoration.. some other parts probably used for other porposes. people and children learned from the viewing and all would pay great respect. what i saw was not much different in the past week.. there was more talk over the excitement than the burden. i saw people from out of town and local families walking down two or three times just to see the progress. so who are the ones that selfishly decided that their consuption was enough and made the decision to terminate what was most natural and respected?
jamie p December 10, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Luhui Waiya "As a community it might be a good idea to think together rather than apart. In this modern world, we are often pushed to think as individuals rather than the collective. We end up thinking what is best for me rather than what is best for the whole," she said.
JR December 12, 2012 at 12:08 AM
The approval to remove the whale doesn't have anything to do with the MLPA. NMFS is the one who has to approve it. Mr. Respondek contacted a tow company in Ventura. The tow boat Captain contacted the proper authorities (NMFS) and got permission to remove the whale and was given the proper coordinates for the whales final resting place. All entities that harvested anything from the whale (except the Santa Barbara County History Museum who also had permission) will be contacted, as what they did was illegal. I thank Mr. Respondek and the other neighbors for doing what was most dignified for the whale. A plan is in the process of being put together, so what transpired with this whale, will not happen again. It would've also been helpful if the LA County Lifeguards offer to tow the whale in the very beginning was accepted instead of refused. The whale would've been necropsied and towed and none of the other aftermath would've occurred.

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