Dead humpback whale draws a crowd at Kincaid Beach
The dead humpback whale spotted floating in Knik River last week has washed up on the shores of Kincaid Beach over the weekend.
“We wanted to go for a hike and thought, well why not go see a whale,” said Kaydee Glumac, one of the dozens of people who made the mile trek down the Coastal Trail to see the humpback.
With the whale carcass came many questions from four-year-olds Sophia Pickett and Juliana Schmuke:
“How did he wash up on here?”
“Why does he have bugs on him?”
“Where is his face?”
“Why is some of his skin growed off?”
“And how did he die?”
The inquisitive pair rattled off as they walked around the whale.
Scientists don’t know how the whale died just yet, but they said it’s been floating around for at least 10 days.
Staff from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, put up caution signs in the area warning people and their pets to stay back.
Spokesperson Julie Speegle said marine mammals can transmit diseases to humans and other animals.
“There’s also concern this carcass will attract bears, so you definitely want to stay away from the carcass,” Speegle said.
NOAA plans to send scientists to perform a necropsy and collect samples of the carcass. They’re not sure if they’ll be able to determine how the whale died because it’s so decayed.
By Monday morning, the caution tape was strewn around the rocks and people were poking the flipper and tail with their bare hands.
For some people, it’s their first chance to see a whale like this, up close.
“It's smaller than what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be larger,” said Glumac. “Looks like the tongue is hanging out of its mouth.”
Sophia’s mom, Jennie Pickett, said the impromptu field trip after preschool was a good learning experience for the girls.
“I think it’s so interesting for them to see nature at its finest. I can't believe the sheer size of the animal, and the smell, oof,” she said.
Downwind of the carcass, near the head -- people plugged their noses and covered their faces with their sleeves as the stench of rotting blubber filled the air.
“When it gets to the tongue it smells to my nose,” said Schmuke while pinching her nostrils shut, adding, “It smells like our bottoms.”
Still, many people braved the smell for a snapshot and a selfie.
They said they’re taking advantage of this rare opportunity before the tide washes the whale back to sea.