Updated at 5:00 p.m., March 19, 2015

A dead gray whale was discovered drifting in the ocean near Torrey Pines State Beach on Thursday, leaving lifeguards with the pungent task of towing the hulking carcass to shore for disposal.

The rotting remains of the roughly 18-foot cetacean were spotted about three-quarters of a mile off the coastline about 9:30 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

“It looks like it’s been dead for a while,” SDFRD spokesman Lee Swanson said.

City lifeguard officials attached ropes to the carcass and used a rescue boat to tow it south to Mission Bay Channel and from there to Fiesta Island, arriving in the early afternoon.

Once the dead whale was beached, marine-fisheries personnel were called in to inspect and document it prior to the process of loading the carcass onto a flatbed truck for transport to a landfill, Swanson said.

— City News Service