It was a magnificent beast when it washed ashore under the bluffs in Malibu: A 40-foot fin whale, a male, dark gray on top, a rich cream below that glistened in the surf and sun.
"It was sad to see it out of the water," said Jeff Hall, marine mammal
coordinator with the California Wildlife Center, a nonprofit wildlife hospital. "But it was a beautiful animal. It was in really, really great condition."
By Thursday … not so much.
After four days of being pounded by the surf, devoured by gulls, poked at by gawkers and probed during a necropsy, magnificence had given way to a decomposing mess of protruding bones and ghastly strips of blubber — and a full-fledged state of government paralysis.
"There isn't really a protocol for this," Hall said. The 40,000-pound whale, which is endangered but a not-uncommon sight off the
Southern California coast, washed up Monday at Little Dume, a small beach between Paradise Cove and Point Dume State Beach. The spit of sand is at the foot of a towering cliff, below Barbra Streisand's neighborhood — massive estates of groomed lawns, swimming pools and tennis courts.