A dead Fin Whale washed up on the shore of a Burien park, Seahurst on April 13th. Burien is just south of Seattle, Washington, so I was able to go see it in person. Hundreds of people came out over the weekend and Monday to see it too. In other countries, like Japan or cultures like our local Makah Native American Tribe on the northern corner of Washington, hunting and using whale is normal.
We don’t always see a whale up close, or a dead one. It was a great attraction because it was unusual. It took officials 4 days to decide what to do with it. I was drawn like many others to go see it in person.I brought my cousin, to see it with me. We had to walk quite a ways to get to the beach, and were both waiting to smell decay. We didn’t smell anything until we got within about 50 yards of the Whale.
There were several dozen people up close to the whale, touching it, looking into it’s mouth, poking the skin, and one girl even kicked the whale to see if it would bounce. Standing within 5 feet of the whale myself, it started to smell really badly. I didn’t want to get any closer for the smell, but in order to take any photos, I had to get beside the folks standing so close to it that they could touch it. One girl who I would say was about 10 rubbed her hands along the whale’s jaw, and then touched her face. I was really upset. First, it bothered me that so many people were being disrespectful of a dead animal. Then, as a mother I hated to see kids touch the whale and not wash their hands afterward (not like it was an easy option being on the beach).
My cousin and I walked around the whale once and spent about 10 minutes total looking at it before we both had to leave. That smell of decay, especially whale or any fish for that matter is really terrible.
One day later, officials roped off the area. We don’t now what exactly killed the whale or what diseases it could have carried. Two days later, the whale was towed away to decay naturally in peace on a deserted beach. It was sad to me that it took us this long to decide what to do with the whale.
Juli told me that in China they are taught to take care of the dead quickly, and with great care to cleanliness. Germs spread easily and it is a basic sanitary matter. If it smells bad then, it seems like common sense to not touch it. Hand washing is still the best way to stop spreading germs, but if you must touch something dead, wear protective gear.
As Juli said, “Being curious can be good or bad thing, the rules is if it smells, looks and taste bad it is bad for you. Exception of our earthy, bitter tasting herbs, the bitter the herbs the better for you.”
So, I learned something new last month: be careful when you’re curious!