Baby whale washes ashore in Santa Cruz

April 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In just a matter of hours, scientists in Santa Cruz will decide what to do with the carcass of a decomposing baby gray whale. That whale washed up on a small beach about a quarter mile from light house point Wednesday.

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From about 30 feet away from the decomposing whale, the smell is very strong. However, the idea is not to have the whale out here for much longer.

A dead baby gray whale came crashing in with the tide onto a small beach. Wednesday night city crews noticed it earlier in the day, one mile south near the wharf. They hauled the whale to the middle of the bay and expected it to just drift back to the ocean, but it didn't.

"My marine biology teacher was talking about it this morning," said Mariah Young, Santa Cruz.

He's not the only one. All day, field trip classes, tourists, and passersby, have stopped along West Cliff Drive, pointed, and looked down.

"I think it's really sad that an animal so majestic like this ends up dead," said Nina Gray, an 11-years-old girl.

"It's exciting to see it, but it's sad to see something like that," said Karen Sigurdson, a Santa Cruz resident.

Even though the 25-foot-long yearling has some puncture wounds, scientists don't know how the whale died. They took tissue samples Thursday, but didn't do a necropsy, that would've required massive clean-up. The decomposing whale is already causing some problems.

"It's a nuisance to the neighbors, they live around here and they can smell it," said Joe Fleischer, from Santa Cruz.

The city wants the whale out, for good, especially since spring break starts Monday. The whale will likely be lifted and towed to a land fill Friday morning, instead of trying for a second time to send it back to sea.

"Where it lies, it's in a shallow reef area so we have to pull it through the reef to get to a larger boat and take it further out. That's looking difficult," said Dan Buecher, the wharf supervisor.

City officials and scientists will come out here at around 7 a.m. to assess the situation, and then decide by about 9 a.m. how to proceed.

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