West Coast
A whale is shown on Pacific Beach in San Diego after washing ashore, Dec. 10, 2023.

CA - 52-ft. whale washes ashore on Pacific Beach in San Diego; NOAA researchers investigating

NOAA is working to remove the whale from the beach as soon as possible. The plan is to tow it off-shore, with the help of high-tide and heavy equipment, and let it sink.

A dead 52-ft. fin whale washed up on the beach off of Santa Rita Place near the border of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach on Sunday morning.

It happened some time before 9:30 a.m. Dozens of spectators along with personnel from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, including firefighters and lifeguards, and the San Diego Police Department were seen surrounding the whale.

Some people were seen running up to the whale, and some touching it, but lifeguards quickly warned them to stay away through their vehicle’s loudspeaker several times. One of the warnings included: “Once again we need you to stay away from the whale. Lifeguards are requesting that and NOAA fisheries is requesting that you do not touch the mammal,” the lifeguard said.

The whale appeared to be bleeding from its side. Lifeguards made an attempt to tow the whale back out to the ocean by connecting its tail to a small boat, but it was unsuccessful.

By 11 a.m. researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) arrived and worked with lifeguards to create a perimeter around the whale. They were seen taking photos and collecting data.

According to Michael Milstein, a public affairs officer with NOAA, the whale is a female juvenile. They added that the blood seen on the whale’s side was likely from birds pecking at it. The researchers on-site are also unable to determine how the whale died. It does not appear to have any propeller marks or gashes, which would be typical if it were hit by a vessel.

“It’s definitely something that I feel like never really happens on, like, public beaches, I feel like not many people see it very often,” Audrey Hagger, who was walking with her dad, said. “It’s unfortunate.”

Milstein said while they encourage people to appreciate the whale, they want to warn people and pets to stay away from it and give researchers their space. Since the cause of death is still unknown, the whale could have an underlying illness.

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