Dead whale being towed to Fiesta Island


City News Service

A dead 67-foot fin whale was towed away from Point Loma at high tide Wednesday and en route to Fiesta Island, where a necropsy is planned.

San Diego Lifeguards started moving the carcass about 7 a.m., towing it at about 2 knots behind lifeguard boat into Mission Bay and about 6.5 miles to Fiesta Island. Experts from the National Marine Fisheries Service were waiting to inspect it.

“Everything went according to plan this morning ... (but) I can honestly tell you the lifeguards were struggling with the enormity of the whale,” said San Diego lifeguard Lt. Greg Buchanan. A lifeguard in the water rigged a towing harness, while two colleagues on shore made sure the line around tail held fast, Buchanan said, adding he expected the carcass at Fiesta Island between noon and 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, scientists examined a roughly 5-foot fetus apparently expelled by the bloating whale some 48 hours after it died. Buchanan said it was gone this morning, speculating that may have been taken away by the tide.

The whale washed up near Point Loma Waste Treatment Plan on Gatchell Road sometime before 4:30 p.m. Saturday and apparently had not been dead very long.

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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