The decaying corpse of a huge fin whale was a sad spectacle Friday on the shore of a cove where it washed ashore nearly a week earlier.
With no government agency taking action to remove the rapidly rotting mammal from Little Dume beach, it appeared that the job would be left to decomposition and nature's scavengers.
A few people wandered down the narrow beach at the foot of a high coastal bluff to look at the remains — white bones, rolls of blubber and the tail flukes trailing along the water's edge.
The smell had largely faded away, but still attached to the shoes of those who came near. Some people took pictures, a boy poked the bones and dogs sniffed it.
"It's really sad that this is my first time seeing a whale," said Ingrid De La O, a Malibu resident. "It's mind-boggling to see this immense huge thing that lives in the water."
The 40-foot-long, 40,000-pound juvenile male washed ashore Monday near Point Dume, which marks the western end of Santa Monica Bay, about 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.
The homes and estates of celebrities and other wealthy line the cliffs high above the slender beach. Access is extremely limited and curious beachcombers had to hike on the sand from the few public parking lots farther up the beach.
"From the evidence that we have so far, it appears that it was hit by a ship," said Jonsie Ross, marine mammal coordinator for the California Wildlife Center.
James Respondek, a real estate agent who lives in the area, worried that the carcass would draw sharks that could pose a threat to his young daughter, who swims in the cove, and to his favorite surfing spot down the beach. He said he was frustrated that no agency would remove the carcass.
"There seems to be no readiness to take responsibility, to take action, just a lot of excuses. 'I don't have a boat, I don't have the money, I don't have the resources,' they all told me," he said.
Looking over the whale on Friday, Malibu resident Ben Dossett suggested there was now no need to try to remove it.
"You look at the difference between what it was on Tuesday to what it is today. I think they can just leave it and let nature take its course," he said.
Fin whales are endangered, and about 2,300 live along the West Coast. They're the second-largest species of whale after blue whales and can grow up to 85 feet, weigh up to 80 tons and live to be 90 years old.