A dead fin whale found washed up on a beach in Burien Saturday will be towed back into the water Wednesday.
The pictures can only tell part of the story. To best experience the rare sight washed up on a Burien beach is to go see it and smell it in person.
Tara Maginnis is a Marine Biologist who made the trek from the University of Portland to see it and study it for herself.
"Most of my students don't know I snuck up here to do this. I really wanted to get up close to see the layers of the skin and the mouth and the pleats in the throat. I mean those are the things I've never been able to see up close before."
But the rare fin whale, once a little too hands on, is now strictly hands off. The animal has been dead more than a week and beached since Saturday so it is laced with bacteria.
On Tuesday, with a plan in place, a salvage crew was on site preparing to tow the whale to a secluded beach somewhere in the South Sound where it can decompose naturally.
"We need to tow it off the beach. So we need to attach flotation to it," said Frank Immel with Global Diving & Salvage Inc.
Wearing hazmat suits, the crew was able to cable around the whale through the mouth and jaw and attach flotation devices. There was concern they'd have to cut into the whale but ultimately that wasn't necessary.
The next step was to wait for low tide and tow it off the beach Tuesday night. If all goes as planned, the whale will continue its natural decomposition so biologists can preserve the skull to eventually display at a school or museum.
The city of Burien is responsible for the cost of removing the carcass. But thanks to help from the National Marine Fisheries Service and a big discount from Global Diving & Salvage, the city will only have to pay a fraction of the original estimated cost..