Burial underway for two whales on Sharp Park Beach

The burial of two whales that turned up dead on a Pacifica beach in recent weeks began Tuesday morning and will be done in a couple of days, a San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman said.

Crews will be working for a few hours each day on burying the whales on Sharp Park Beach above the high tide line.

Work is expected to take another day or two, Rec and Park spokeswoman Connie Chan said.

The section of beach where the whales were found is under San Francisco’s jurisdiction.

Rec and Park officials had originally intended to let the 48-foot sperm whale discovered on April 14 near Mori Point and the 42-foot adult female humpback found on May 5 decompose on the beach, but foul odors led the city of Pacifica to seek another solution.

Marin Headlands-based Marine Mammal Center spokeswoman Laura Sherr said Monday that while generally whale carcasses are left to decompose on beaches, they usually are found on more remote beaches.

But in the case where the landowner wants to get rid of them, the center has no objections, Sherr said.

Center researchers finished studying the two whales within a week of their discovery.

Researchers conducted necropsies on both whales but were unable to determine their specific cause of death, though injuries from blunt force trauma indicated the humpback might have died from a ship strike.

The center has responded to 17 beached sperm whales and 21 beached humpbacks in its 40-year history.