SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) — Lifeguards Thursday undertook the pungent task of towing out to sea a heavily decomposed humpback-whale carcass that drifted into the waters of the San Diego area this week.
The dead sea mammal, first spotted in the Los Angeles area last week, floated south past San Clemente over the last several days, San Diego lifeguard
Lt. Rick Romero said.
Remarkable video showed a great white shark eating the humpback whale carcass. It was towed offshore by Newport Beach lifeguards last Thursday.
"Most of the skin up top is bleached by the sun and big and bloated and smelly and there's been some footage online of sharks feeding on that carcass. It's the natural process of the circle of life," said Romero.
Professional shark tagger, Keith Poe, caught it all on camera Saturday by the Orange and San Diego County lines.
Monday it almost washed ashore in Oceanside.
The roughly 45-foot carcass was about a mile offshore of La Jolla when lifeguards initially tried to haul it out into deeper water Wednesday. The effort was thwarted by rough seas, according to Romero.
About 8:30 Thursday morning, the personnel tracked down the lifeless cetacean again, got a line around it and used a 42-foot fireboat to pull it away from shore to the southwest.
Lifeguards planned to deposit the carcass about five miles off the coast of Point Loma Thursday afternoon in hopes that it will float on its own from there farther out into the ocean, Romero said.
The U.S. Coast Guard attached electronic beacons to allow it to track the progress of the massive cadaver and make sure that it does not double back and wind up beached, creating a more involved land-based disposal challenge.
Researchers nicknamed the humpback whale "Scarlet" and tracked her since she was a calf in 1997. Experts are not sure how it died.