Dead humpback whale towed to sea

A dead humpback whale found on a Pacifica beach this weekend has been towed back out to sea, police said Wednesday.

The 38-foot juvenile whale was reported on Esplanade Beach below Esplanade Avenue around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, according to police.

The city hired a company on Tuesday to tow the whale about 25 miles out to sea, which should ensure it does not return to shore, Pacifica police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said today.

Scientists with the Marin Headlands-based Marine Mammal Center and the California Academy of Sciences examined the whale on Sunday and found evidence that it had been hit by a passing ship.

A necropsy performed on the decomposing whale found internal hemorrhaging on the whale’s left side below its pectoral flipper, an injury consistent with blunt force trauma such as a ship strike, Marine Mammal Center officials said.

The dead whale is the third to wash ashore in Pacifica since April. A 48-foot male sperm whale was found on April 14 and a 42-foot adult female humpback washed ashore on May 5.

Necropsies performed on those whales were inconclusive, but scientists did find evidence of a ship strike in the other humpback.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in June advised ships in shipping lanes near the Bay Area to slow down to avoid striking endangered blue, humpback and fin whales moving through the area.