A dead whale washed up at San Onofre
© Missy Sanders
A dead whale washed up at San Onofre State Beach on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
TJ Cruz was out surfing the waves at San Onofre State Beach on Wednesday morning, March 20, when he noticed a lifeguard boat close to shore.

It was only after he got to shore that he realized why the boat was there — to haul a dead whale carcass off the beach.

"At first, we didn't know what was going on, some of the guys started pointing at it," Cruz said.

The whale, which Cruz estimated was about 30 feet long, tumbled around in the shorebreak of the rocky beach between the surf breaks Old Man's and Dog Patch. The first attempt by State lifeguards to haul it away was unsuccessful, with the line tangling. On the second attempt, they were able to take it far offshore, away from the beach.

The dead whale at San Onofre State Beach, south of San Clemente, was just the latest whale carcass to wash up close to shore in the area.

On Monday, March 18, a whale was reported floating 500 yards from shore off Hermosa Beach, before lifeguards towed it back out. It's unclear if the whale on Wednesday was the same one towed off of Hermosa Beach.

A dead whale also was reported off the Palos Verdes Peninsula a few weeks ago.

It wouldn't be the first dead whale to make its way down the coastline. Lifeguard agencies try their best to keep the carcass off the shallow water, but ocean currents and winds can push the whale back onto shore, sometimes far from where they are first spotted.