ESTER GÓMEZ

Attempt to remove rotting whale corpse from Estepona shoreline delayed

Residents of the area say the smell is overpowering and have called on the town council to speed up its removal

IGNACIO LILLO

A dead fin whale, which washed up on Rada beach last Thursday, has been swept back to land in an ever-increasing state of decay.

The 15 metre long whale re-appeared near Estepona port on Sunday 23 January. Residents of the area say the smell of rotting is overpowering and have called on the town council to speed up its removal. But weather conditions over the weekend prevented them from taking action.

The protocol for disposing of dead whales involves taking the corpse to deep water, roughly six miles away from the coast, and weighing it down so that it sinks to the ocean bed. Removing the whale by pulling it on to land or carrying it through the centre of the municipality had been ruled out given the risk that the corpse might explode.

"Due to the large size of the animal, the difficulties moving it" and in order to avoid any kind of mishap during the transfer of the whale's body on dry land, the Council said it will follow the usual protocol of taking the whale's corpse out to sea established by the Spanish Society of Cetaceans (SEC) so that "no part of the body remains on the surface" because it could cause accidents with boats.

Weather conditions have so far “prevented boat crews and divers from working safely" the council added.

Felipe Román Requena, spokesman for Ecologists in Action-Sierra Bermeja, said, “This has to be managed by the council, which has technicians. We are just pointing out that there is a problem.”