It’s baaaaaack…

“The ever-returning whale,” is how state Park Manager Ben Cox describes the dead humpback whale that washed ashore near Manzanita over the weekend – only to disappear with the tide two days later.
By Ann Powers

Now, it’s back.

The dead humpback whale that's been in and out with the tide, is in again. Photo provided
The dead humpback whale that’s been in and out with the tide near Manzanita, is in again. Photo provided
The full-grown, and highly decomposed, humpback first showed up on Cape Falcon Beach on Sept. 17. Before Seaside Aquarium officials could perform a necropsy on the remains of the 38′ mammal, it washed back out with the high tide.
And today, it made a return visit just two miles south on Short Sand Beach inside Oswald West State Park, Cox said.
“The ocean is a strange place,” he quipped. “It percolated for awhile and migrated back.”

State park staff will be on the beach to present interpretive talks starting at 1 p.m., Sept. 24 – 25. 

Oregon State Parks and Recreation (OSPD) officials said the twice-daily high tides predicted over the next few weeks are not expected to be high enough to take it back out to sea, though it is still possible for it to wash out.
An OSPD alert stated the interpretive presentations will happen on the beach whether the whale washes out or not. Researchers will continue to have access if they need to collect more tissue.

“We’re entering a cycle of short tides,” Cox explained. “It should stay there for a awhile and give them time.”

Officials added that the bodies of marine mammals and other animals are a natural part of the ocean shore. On busy beaches in the heat of summer, staff normally bury large mammals if they are on busy beaches and reachable with excavation equipment.

In this case, where temperatures are cool and visitors are fewer, it will be left to decay naturally. Scavengers and microorganisms will consume and recycle the tissue over the course of several weeks, according to OSPD.

Researchers have the required federal permits to collect tissue from dead whales. Officials said all other visitors are encouraged to come see the humpback, but are not allowed to take any pieces and are discouraged from touching it.

They also caution when visiting, to keep pets away from the corpse and keep an eye on the ocean for safety’s sake.

The interpretive presentation and parking at Oswald West are both free. Park at the North Short Sand Trailhead on US Highway 101, and follow the trail signs from the parking area to Short Sand Beach, then walk north.