Dead whale discovered in San Francisco Bay

May 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A dead whale was found in San Francisco Bay Wednesday and it is the second time in three weeks for the Coast Guard and marine biologists.

The Coast Guard says it has been authorized to tow the whale out to sea, but by Wednesday evening, they were not sure where the whale had drifted.

The Marine Mammal Center went out to examine the whale which was spotted not far from Pier 39. They say it is a 30 to 35-foot California gray whale. It appears to be a juvenile and is mildly decomposing.

The decomposition will make it lot more difficult to examine and test the whale for clues as to how it died, unlike a 20-foot baby gray whale found floating in the bay three weeks ago. The results on that autopsy are not back yet, but marine biologists hope to learn a lot from it.

In the meantime, the question remains on what to do with the whale found on Wednesday.

"It's really hard to say, at what stage, how long it's been dead for instance, or how it died," Jim Oswald with the Marine Mammal Center told ABC30. "All we can do at this stage is kind of see what happens to this carcass, and if it does float out onto land in an area where researchers can actually secure it safely and actually take tissue samples and measurements, then we'll definitely want to do that."

No one really wants it to float onto their property because once it touches their property, it becomes their problem. In fact, the gray whale from three weeks ago is still decomposing on the beach at Point Richmond.

It is a very expensive and smelly problem, and that is why the Port of San Francisco, the national parks, and other municipalities want the whale towed away from their property as soon as possible.

On Wednesday evening, the tide was ebbing and the whale carcass was floating towards the Golden Gate Bridge, which was good news for all interested municipalities. The Marine Mammal Center says they are not as interested in researching this whale and may not end up taking control of the carcass.


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