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Stinky Whale Washes up on N. Oregon Coast Beach near Pacific City

Published 04/19/2020 at 5:54 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Stinky Whale Washes up on N. Oregon Coast Beach near Pacific City

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(Pacific City, Oregon) – The north Oregon coast’s Sand Lake Recreation Area near Pacific City received a rather large and unsettling visitor on Friday. A camp host at the area discovered the corpse of a 39-foot gray whale had washed up, a male that had probably been deceased for at least a week, according to officials. (Photos courtesy Tillamook County Sheriff's office).

Jim Rice, head of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network based out of Newport, said this one had been dead for a week or more and was pretty “ripe.” He and another volunteer came up from Newport and took some samples for a necropsy, but hopes are not high for conclusions on how it died as it was fairly decomposed. Rice and the volunteer were there for a few hours, but he said a whale corpse that was fresher would be more reliable for any lab test results.

He did add it seemed underweight.

“There was nothing obvious about how it died,” Rice said. “No signs of fishing interaction or a predation event.”

Necropsies are the regular procedure for whales that wash up on the Oregon coast and the Washington coast, as part of regular scientific research but also to determine if there are any new trends in whale deaths. In fact, Rice said there has been some unusual mortality in gray whales in the last year

There is no firm word on what is planned with the whale body afterwards, whether it will be buried or left for wildlife to consume. However, Tillamook County Sheriffs joked on Facebook about what’s next, referencing the infamous “exploding whale” incident in Florence 50 years ago.


“We at the Sheriff’s Office do not recommend they use dynamite this time to dispose of it,” they said on Facebook. “It didn’t go well last time.”

Rice said Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department will make the decision on how it may be disposed of or if simply left there. The agency will take into account cost and other factors, including any danger to humans. Decomposing whales are not a healthy thing for humans and their pets to be around.

Keith Chandler is manager of Seaside Aquarium and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network’s response manager for the northern Oregon coast and southern Washington coast. He had the same hopes for the whale’s fate as Rice. Both said since no one is allowed on the beaches at this time it should be left there for birds and other wildlife to devour. They’re already doing that now.

“The birds are certainly having a feast on it now,” Rice said.

Occasionally, whales wash up in an extreme state of decomposition and may not even be recognizable as a whale. In the last century these became known as “globsters,” which not only smell really bad but they look like hairy blobs because of their extreme decay. The term globsters has been tied to some paranormal legends of strange monsters emerging from the sea, a legend that grew from a lack of understanding of what globsters really were.

If you’ve ever been near a decomposing whale, you know how badly they can reek. So how does Rice and other members of the network deal with that when working on a whale corpse on the beach?

“You get kind’a used to it,” he said. “I just try to stay upwind from it as much as I can. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. Some people put Vic’s VapoRub under their noses, though.”

More about Oregon Coast Whales - more photos of this whale below






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