Locals hire tugboat to remove rotting whale from beach

Nick Ut / AP

People look at a dead young male fin whale that washed ashore between the Paradise Cove and Point Dume areas of Malibu, Calif., last week.

By NBC News staff

Fed up with the stench of a decaying whale carcass that washed up on a Malibu beach -- and with the inaction of government officials -- a local homeowners association took matters into its own hands and hired a tugboat that pulled the body out to sea late Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 40-foot fin whale washed up between Paradise Cove and Point Dume, near the homes of celebrities including Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan.

The whale appeared to have been hit by a ship and had a gash on its back and a damaged spine, according to the results of a necropsy by the California Wildlife Center. It was already dead when it washed ashore.

The whale carcass was left decaying for several days while government officials argued over whose responsibility it was to remove it.

Shark bait? Rotting whale on Malibu beach raises fear

"We have not yet been informed of any removal plans," Malibu spokeswoman Olivia Damavandi told NBC News Friday morning.

Burying the carcass on the beach, carving it up and setting the pieces on fire and towing it out to sea where among the removal methods considered, the Times reported. 

On Thursday, authorities said towing the carcass to sea was no longer feasible because it was too decomposed.

But Fire Inspector Brian Riley told the newspaper a homeowners association hired a private tugboat to remove the remains, which were reportedly carried off about 20 miles offshore.

Fin whales are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. They can grow to up to 85 feet, weigh up to 80 tons and live for up to 90 years.

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