Seattle Dead Whale; Fin Whale Corpse Stinks Up Beach [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 16, 2013 11:44 AM EDT

Seattle dead Whale
A fin whale, like the one pictured here, washed up on a beach near Puget Sound. (Photo: NOAA)

Seattle's dead whale, a 70-foot fin whale that washed up on Saturday, is attracting onlookers to the Puget Sound beach town of Burien. Despite that fact that Seattle's dead whale has been rotting away on both land and sea for a week, officials still had to issue warnings to stop people from climbing on it.

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"One thing is that it stinks," David Sommerfield told KOMO. "I've always wanted to see a whale close-up, but I guess a live one would have been better."

Seattle's dead whale appears to be have been torn almost in half by a passing ship, according to research biologist John Calambokidis. He told reporters  that fin whales don't dive very deep and are often struck by passing ships. Seattle's dead whale has traces of red paint on it as well, another indication it was involved in a fatal collision with a large vessel.

It's the 10th fin whale carcass in Washington waters since 2002 and the eighth with evidence of a ship strike, Calambokidis said.

"It's part of a growing pattern up and down the West Coast of ship strikes becoming a bigger issue for larger species, especially blue whales and fin whales," he said. The fin whale is a federal endangered species.

Now, the problem facing Burien is getting rid of the dead whale corpse. Myron Clinton, a maintenance and operations supervisor for Burien parks, said that because the dead whale has been mangled it's unlikely to be removed by a museum or school interested in a whale skeleton. Only 52 feet of the fin whale's 65-foot body made it to shore. But that's literally tons of rotting carcass that needs to be removed. Likely options include burying Seattle's dead whale on the beach or cutting it up and removing it piece-by-piece.

"That would be pretty messy and not pretty," Clinton said. The cost of removing the enormous animal is expected to run into the tens of thousands of dollars. According to Wikipedia the fin whale "is the second longest animal in the world and second largest rorqual after the blue whale, growing to 89.5 ft long and weighing nearly 74 tons." Rorquals are the largest group of baleen whales.

Fortunately for those tasked with removing Seattle's dead whale, YouTube provides a great video on how NOT to clean up a whale carcass.

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