SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif.-The director of the Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit (CICRU) pronounced like "sea crew" said a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore on Padaro Beach.
After beachgoers spotted it in the water on Saturday, Heal the Ocean gave whale expert Michelle Kowalewski a call.
She went to take a closer look during low tide on Monday morning.
"It didn't look like there was evidence of human interaction, we didn't see any evidence of ship strike or anything like that, so we may never know what happened to the animal actually," said Kowalewski, who has researched hundreds of whales.
She said a whale can look good on the outside because of the blubber that keeps it warm and protected, but once it is dead the inside can rot from the heat.
It is easy to see the incisions where scientists took samples, but experts chose not to take organs for further research because of the mess that would make on a popular beach where people walk their dogs.
A decision between whether to let the cetacean wash back out to the ocean during high tide or tow it out or bury it in the sand is the current status of the whale's carcass as is what government agency or private company will manage the removal.
Holly and Neil Alper said they walk the beach every day and hope the county will put something around it to keep people away from the whale or until something can be done with the remains.
Experts noticed indications that it may not have been well for some time.
"If you do go out there you will notice a lot of barnacles all over it," said Kowalewski, "That is one of the indications that is wasn't very healthy, I suspect it was sick for awhile."
She recommends not touching it or getting too close.
"It is really important not to touch anything or get any of the oils or liquids on you, these are mammals just like we are, they carry diseases just like we do."
There can be cross-contamination.
"Some of their diseases are zoonotic so they can jump from animals to humans, so it is really important to keep the dogs away."
For more information about whales visit cicru.org. Donations may be made to the nonprofit at paypal.me/cicru
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