Wally The Whale: Beloved Dead Whale Towed Back Out To Sea [Video]

A dead whale that washed up on a popular California beach was towed back out to sea on Friday night.

Wally the Whale was known around California, and many other parts of the world, as the star of a viral video that showed a humpback whale breaching the surface of the ocean to expel water, which causing a rainbow to appear.

Wally the Whale has appeared in other videos and has been seen off of California’s coast several times, including once by an adorable little girl convinced she’d conjured the great mammal with the wave of her hand.

When the dead whale washed up on Dockweiler Beach at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday night, the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division tweeted about the sight.

Authorities were unaware at that time that the dead humpback that had been beached was indeed the beloved Wally the Whale. He was only identified after scientists compared tail markings of the dead humpback to other whale markings they had on file.

Wally had been tagged by scientists in 2015 and his markings were recorded at that time.

Wally the Whale was roughly 45-feet-long and weighed upwards of 22 tons. According to another tweet by LACoLifeguards that’s the equivalent of 22 Toyota Tundras.

The dead whale was found to have no signs of current trauma, though there were scars on Wally’s tail that indicated he’d once been caught in some kind of fishing line. Those scars were thoroughly healed and could not have led to his death.

Scientists wanted to be able to give the dead whale an autopsy in order to find out exactly what caused his death, but officials were desperate to get Wally off the beach before Fourth of July tourists started pouring in. As a result, biologists were forced to scramble in order to get tissue and fecal matter samples to take back to the lab for testing.

Although they didn’t get to open the dead whale up to look for clues as to cause of death, scientists relayed to the Associated Press that most of the sightings of Wally in 2015 indicated that he was covered in whale lice.

Whale lice are not actually a species of louse, but likely earned the nickname in the 1800s when fishermen first noticed that the crustaceans crawled all over the whales they were seen on. The mere existence of those ‘lice’ on a whale indicates that the creature is not in very good health.

According to a tweet by Jeff Nguyen, a reporter for CBS, when scientists started to collect tissue samples, they were able to note that the dead whale was filled with parasites.

In the middle of Friday, authorities attempted to push the dead whale back out to sea with a bulldozer, but they were unsuccessful due to low tide. They were trying to avoid the more macabre method of disposing of a dead whale which would include chopping the creature up and transporting it to a landfill.

Not only would the crowds gathered to see Wally likely be unable to stomach the sight, but it would render the beach useless for the Fourth of July tourists.

After their initial failure, they waited for high tide and then tied ropes around Wally’s tail and attached them to two lifeguard boats. The boats worked together and the dead whale was finally towed out to sea at approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“It took a while, but the high tide during the evening helped us into getting it back into the water,” Carol Baker, a spokeswoman for the LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors, told the Los Angeles Times.

[Photo by AP Photo/Nick Ut]