SAN DIEGO - A dead fin whale that washed up about a mile north of the U.S.-Mexico Border near Border Field State Park this weekend is believed to be the same whale that was towed from the Point Loma shoreline last week.
Experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believe it is the same whale because of the whale's measurements and amount of decay.
According to state park reserve manager Christopher Paragon, the whale is about 35 to 45 tons and 57 feet in length.
A woman visiting from Japan was in amazement as she described the whale's sheer size.
"It's beautiful, it's very big," said Masako Hikida. "The nature of the whale, I've never seen it in my life … so big."
Beachgoers also plugged their noses as they walked by. Andres Chavez described it this way.
"It stinks," he said.
The dead whale initially turned up on the beach near Point Loma Monday morning. On Wednesday, lifeguards in a motorboat dragged the whale from the shoreline below Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant on Gatchell Road, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
It was later turned it over to members of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, who worked the following day to release the whale in an area where it would not end up drifting back to shore, according to the Fallbrook-based nonprofit research agency's Facebook page.
"It was drifting south when the tow line snapped ... but it didn't go far enough," an official with the agency said in the online posting. "Welcome back whale."
The state park reserve manager is now working on a plan to remove the whale.