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Malibu residents move whale carcass, ignoring red tape

A whale carcass washed ashore in Malibu earlier this month

In the end, Malibu residents took matters into their own hands.

For days, a whale was left decaying -- and smelling -- on a Malibu beach as government officials debated what to do.

On Saturday night, the rotting carcass of a 40-foot fin whale was quietly pulled out to sea by a private tugboat hired by Malibu residents who were tired of its stench.

After days of official bickering over whose responsibility it was to deal with the landlocked leviathan, a local homeowners association stepped in, according to Fire Inspector Brian Riley.

Members hired a private company to bring a tugboat to remove what was left of the 40,000-pound whale, which had washed ashore last Monday, already dead. The whale had suffered a wound to the back, perhaps the result of a collision with a boat.

The tug towed the carcass some 20 miles offshore -- far enough that the remains are not expected to reappear, Riley said. He said he could not provide the names of the homeowners association or the private company.

Previously, state and local officials said they were not sure they could accomplish the feat before higher tides arrived this weekend. They had also considered burying the whale or carving it into chunks and setting it afire.

Malibu residents soon began complaining that the smell had filled the area surrounding Little Dume, the small beach between Paradise Cove and Point Dume State Beach.

By late Thursday, a state official said authorities had decided towing the carcass to sea was no longer feasible because it would break apart.

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-- Jason Felch

Photo: A dog sniffs at the whale carcass on Malibu's Little Dume beach. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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