Lifeguards to try and move dead whale at high tide

To take advantage of optimal ocean tide conditions, authorities plan to wait until midweek to remove a dead 50-foot fin whale from the remote Point Loma beach where it drifted ashore over the weekend, a lifeguard service spokesman said Monday.

The huge cetacean washed up near Point Loma Waste Treatment Plan on Gatchell Road sometime before 4:30 p.m. Saturday, San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Greg Buchanan said. The largely intact state of the carcass indicated that the sea mammal had not been dead long, according to Buchanan.

Wednesday morning's high tide, peaking just before 7 a.m., will give city and Coast Guard crews a good opportunity to haul the dead whale back into the ocean. Lifeguards tied a rope around its tail Sunday and plan to use a twin-engine 35-foot vessel to do the job, the lieutenant said.

The plan is to tow the carcass to Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, where scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service will inspect it and try to determine what killed the animal. City crews then will take the remains to a landfill for disposal, Buchanan said.

Fin whales, nicknamed the "greyhound of the sea" because they can swim as fast as 23 mph, are the second-largest species of whale and can grow up to 75 feet and weigh 70 tons, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

   
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