The rotting carcass of a 41-foot fin whale is floating somewhere 20 miles off the Malibu coast Sunday, after a Malibu businessman and homeowners passed the hat to pay to tow it to sea.
The whale had been killed by a ship, and had created a bureaucratic stink in the seaside community when government agencies disagreed on whose jurisdiction the carcass was fouling.
County Fire Department officials were planning to tow it out to sea Saturday night, when the highest tides of the week were expected to allow the remains to float over the rocky reef that had snagged it last weekend.
But a private tow vessel was hired to do the dirty job. Lifeguards said its fee was primarily paid by Bob Morris, a Malibu resident who owns the restaurant at nearby Paradise Cove.
Homeowners living near the reeking mess mentioned in the comments section of an earlier Patch story stating that residents also chipped in.
"The community from Paradise Cove all the way to Big Dume collectively pitched in to have a professional and respectful boat crew with the proper authorization conduct the removal of the week old dead Fin whale," wrote homeowner James Respondek. "At last he will be where he is from, far out at sea R.I.P. Thank you to the community. Way to come together and get the job done right."
Earlier in the week, the city of Malibu, L.A. County lifeguards, and California State Parks politely pointed fingers at each other as residents clamored for the corpse to be removed.
The city does not own or regulate one inch of the 22 miles of beaches in Malibu, a spokeswoman said. The adjacent dry beach is owned by homeowners, and sand below the normal high tide line is public beach. The whale was located below the high tide line.
But state parks officials said their nearest property was one cove over, and they don't have a boat large enough to drag the rotting mess seaward.
By late last week, local Chumash Indians had reportedly performed a beachside ceremony for the animal's spirit, and government officials said it looked like time and the tides would dispose of the deteriorating mess.