Dead whale stuck under pier

A dead whale wedged beneath a pier was spotted by swimmers Thursday, but no government agency raced to remove the foul-smelling mammal.

The lifeless whale was seen bobbing beneath Pier 27, on the north side of the San Francisco’s waterfront.

“Protecting marine life is an important mission — but with dead whales it’s case by case,” U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell said. “[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] is the lead regulatory agency for what can and can’t be done with a dead whale.”

NOAA spokesman Jim Milbury said responsibility for removing a dead whale depends on where it washes up.

“It’s usually the responsibility of the landowner,” he said.

Pier 27 is owned by the Port of San Francisco, which plans today to investigate options for removing the late mammal, according to spokeswoman Renée Dunn.

“There’s definitely a stench in the air — it’s probably been there at least for a couple of tide cycles,” Dunn said. “This isn’t a situation that happens every day.”

Two gray whales were spotted last month just offshore from Crissy Field.

Whales are currently migrating north and are often spotted in the Bay at this time of year, according to Oceanic Society of San Francisco naturalist Stan Minasian, who added that a dead whale was found in the Bay last year, and two the year before.

“One of the theories is that these were once land animals, so when they feel they’re getting ill they’ll sometimes instinctively go toward land to die,” Minasian said.

Whales are often killed after being struck by ships, Ocean Conservation Research scientist Michael Stocker said.

“They have no reasons to be adapted to identify large, low-frequency things, such as ships,” he said.

Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based nonprofit Marine Mammal Center, said the carcass might be useful for research if it died recently.

“If they can dislodge it they might tow it somewhere to a safe area on shore,” Oswald said. “We might go look at it and possibly take some skin or blubber samples.”

jupton@examiner.com

Examiner Staff Writer Brent Begin contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Bill to create state public bank could jumpstart SF efforts

California may move $10 billion of its investment banking funds to rebuild… Continue reading

State hires firefighters as wildfire season begins

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday outlined the steps California has taken to… Continue reading

Supes to vote on proposal to ease restrictions on gay bathhouses

Mandelman hopes to ‘make the operation of adult sex venues more feasible.’

Breed, Walton test negative for COVID-19 after exposure to the virus

Mayor London Breed announced Thursday she tested negative for COVID-19 after notified… Continue reading

‘No timetable’ for cable car return, SFMTA says

How the temporary absence of cable cars means more than just a loss of transit routes

Most Read