Tragically, a dead whale has washed up on the shore at popular Southern California surf spot, Trestles, in San Clemente, according to STAB Magazine.
The appearance of the dead whale, thought to be a young gray whale, has attracted crowds of curious onlookers and cleared the water of surfers, fearful that powerful scents given off by the rotting carcass will attract sharks.
The dead gray whale is currently visible, lying in shallow water, on the Surfline Trestles surf cam, usually used by surfers to check conditions before venturing to the beach.
Reported to have be brought ashore with blustery west winds, the carcass of the whale is thought to be about 40 feet long. Local fishermen have reported seeing a second carcass of a dead whale floating offshore; current conditions suggest it may make its way to the San Clemente shore, as well.
“Great white sightings sure seemed to coincide with the burying of a whale 15+ years back by Trails,” 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater wrote with regard to the Trestles whale on Instagram. “Not saying they weren’t around before then but they’ve been sniffing around the area consistently since then. I wonder if they can/will tow this thing back out to sea before it completely decays in the rocks or do a necropsy on it. Anybody know?”
In the Spring of 2000, Getty Images published photos of one gray whale, of a reported group of 20, found dead, washed ashore in the San Francisco area.
Plans for removing the body of the gray whale, currently lying on its side in the surf in San Clemente, remain unclear. A solution described as “ideal” involves waiting for high tide, hoping the carcass floats, and then towing it out to sea. Its has been reported that burying the whale carcass and blowing it up has also been suggested.
Officials with San Clemente State Beach are reported to have suggested that the whale was not fully grown, and had been dead for “some time.” A number of the gray whales currently migrating are described as babies accompanied by mothers.
The reason behind the young whale’s death is unclear, with causes including a collision with a boat and starvation being put forth.
Surfers are concerned that if the carcass of the whale remains in the area, or is buried there, that it has the potential to attract sharks for some time. Kelly Slater has suggested that the burying of a whale carcass near the Trails surf spot, approximately 15 years ago, has resulted in an increase in shark activity in the area. The shoreline where the dead whale is currently located is described by officials as being “too rocky” to serve as a suitable burial location.
Gray whales can grow to as long as 50 feet and weigh as much as 40 tons as adults, according to National Geographic. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the lifespan of gray whales is unknown, although specimens estimated at 75-80 years of age have been documented.
[Image via CBS Los Angeles/YouTube]