60,000-pound whale carcass removed from California beach

Crews use earth-moving equipment to begin removing a massive gray whale carcass from Southern California's San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, Calif., Thursday, April 28, 2016. The whale washed ashore Sunday at a famous surf break called Lower Trestles north of downtown San Diego. (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP)

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP) — It literally was a whale of a job.

Crews on Friday finished removing the estimated 60,000-pound carcass of a rotting whale from a Southern California beach.

A contractor working for the state parks department spent two days using an excavator to cut up the 40-foot whale, which was hauled off to a San Diego County landfill.

The end of the two-day, $30,000 project included skimming the top layer of sand off the Lower Trestles, a surfing beach near San Clemente where the whale washed ashore Sunday.

That was to eliminate any sand contaminated by the whale’s body fluids.

“As they started to dismember the carcass, they said it was messy but it wasn’t as messy as it could have been,” Rich Haydon, area state parks superintendent, told the Orange County Register.

“It’s to be expected there will be a little bit of a smell down there for a while,” he said, “but I think we dodged a bullet.”

The whale was a tourist attraction for a few days. Despite an overpowering stench, some people skipped work or school to snap photos with the towering carcass.

However, few people were on hand Friday for the finish.

Nick Lind of Newport Beach and Matthew Howell of San Clemente were surfing as the last remnants of the whale were being removed.

“It did have an interesting stench to it, sort of like a rotten baked potato,” Lind said. “It was overpowering when we were near shore.”

Lind said he wasn’t worried about sharks that might have been attracted by the whale’s remains.

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