Finally, the state came up with an effective—if somewhat gruesome—solution. The body would be chopped into pieces and taken to a landfill.

After clearing the perimeter and warning away children and the squeamish—“you just don’t know what you’re going to see,” state parks safety superintendent Kevin Pearsall told the LA Times—the state brought in a contractor on April 28, four days after the animal washed ashore. In a cross between a demolition job and veterinary surgery, workers tarped down the area and used straw to keep fluids from leaking further in the sand. Earthmoving equipment reduced the carcass to pieces of manageable size.

By last Friday (April 29) the $30,000 removal operation was over. The top layer of sand was skimmed away, and the whale’s remnants were en route to their final resting place in a San Diego County landfill.

“They said it was messy but it wasn’t as messy as it could have been,” superintendent Haydon told the Register. “It’s to be expected there will be a little bit of a smell down there for awhile, but I think we dodged a bullet.”

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