Wave of grey whale deaths overwhelms beaches as scientists appeal for help
So many grey whales are dying off the US west coast scientists and volunteers dealing with the putrid carcasses have an urgent request for coastal residents: Lend us your private beaches so these ocean giants can rot in peace.
The number washing ashore in Washington state alone - 29 as of this week - means almost every isolated public beach has been used.
Authorities are scrambling to find remote stretches of sand that are privately owned, with proprietors who don't mind hosting a rotting creature that's bigger than a school bus and has a stench to match its size.
"The preferred option is, at all times, that they just be allowed to decompose naturally," said John Calambokidis, a biologist with the Washington-based Cascadia Research. "But it gets harder and harder to find locations where they can rot without creating a problem."
At least 81 grey whales have washed ashore in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The "unusual mortality event" triggered additional resources to respond to the deaths and launch an investigation.