By Pete Thomas
The carcass of a 40-foot gray whale that washed ashore Sunday at a popular Southern California surf spot most likely will be towed to sea when it becomes practical and as weather conditions permit.
The carcass discovered at Lower Trestles near San Clemente drew large crowds, and an image of the whale was posted to Instagram by 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater.
Anyone for a surf at Trestles? Im sure that #BeachedWhale oil should keep the crowds to a minimum coming into summer! Sketchy. Great white sightings sure seemed to coincide with the burying of a whale 15+ years back by Trails. 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? Can't help but think this (washing up right in the middle of #Lowers) is Karma for humans possibly having some part in this whale's death and the whale sending us a message we can't help but have a look at. A mile or two south and we probably wouldn't take nearly as much notice. Good summer to surf the wave pool. 😳🐋
Slater’s post began with the line, “Anyone for a surf at Trestles?” It then alluded to the possibility of great white sharks being lured to the lineup by "whale oil." The Instagram post garnered more than 41,000 likes.
Todd Mansur, a captain for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching in nearby Dana Point, told the Orange County Register that the whale did not appear to have external injuries associated with a boat strike or fishing gear entanglement.
It remains unclear how the whale died – "It didn’t even look like it was a day dead,” Mansur said – but NOAA biologists planned to collect biological samples from the carcass on Monday.
A NOAA spokeswoman said the agency was discussing possible “tow options” for whenever the whale can be safely hauled to sea.
About 22,000 gray whales are currently migrating from Baja Calfornia nursing areas to summer feeding grounds off Alaska.