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Humpback whale carcass remains on Carpinteria beach after washing ashore last weekend

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 23, 2023

Over the weekend, a dead whale washed up on Padaro Beach in Carpinteria, drawing visitors to the shoreline to check it out for themselves.

“You have got about a one- to two-year-old male humpback whale here that was drifting out and came out right here into the good old Padaro Beach vortex and hit the shore,” said Harry Rabin, program director with local nonprofit, Heal the Ocean.

In the days since the whale washed up, people walking along the beach have stopped by to take pictures, drop off flowers, and wonder about what happened to the creature.

“We were just here to walk along the beach, have a nice little walk and we happened to see that beached whale. Honestly, it was really sad to see,” said Daisy Rincon, who visited Padaro Beach Tuesday.

Rabin says through an initial examination of the humpback carcass, his team found that the whale had many scars from shark bites, but officials with bio-surveillance nonprofit CIRCRU add that a number of other factors could have contributed to its death.

“We couldn’t really determine too much. We looked for signs of ship strike and we didn’t see any of that,” said Michelle Kowalewski, executive director of CICRU. “We didn’t find too many other indications, but it didn’t look very healthy. It had a lot of what we call epiphytes, so a lot of barnacles, a lot of whale lice on it, usually an indication that it is in poor nutritional health.”

Kowalewski says her team uses instances like these to help them get a better understanding of the overall conditions of our ocean and its sea life, but she says right now, there is no imminent concern that another whale will wash ashore anytime soon.

As for plans to remove the whale from Padaro Beach — that is still up in the air.

“Well, that is the $6 million question — Who is going to take responsibility for it? Generally, NOAA does on strandings. This is kind of a private beach, an exclusive area, so I think there will be some effort to try and tow it out to sea possibly, or to bury it,” Rabin told KSBY.

Meanwhile, if you plan on heading to Carpinteria to see the whale on Padaro Beach, experts say you should keep your distance.

“There are fluids coming out of the animal, there are oils, the oils will stick on you forever, you will throw out your clothes when you get home. But again, looking is great, taking pictures is great but don’t let your dogs get near them, don’t let your kids touch anything that has the liquids or oils on it,” Kowalewski added.

We reached out to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for comment on their plans for removal of the carcass but we did not hear back.