The decomposing carcass of a 45-foot humpback whale was towed out to sea from Dockweiler Beach last Friday night, clearing the area for Fourth of July weekend crowds.

Los Angeles County lifeguards discovered the dead whale, estimated to be between seven and 10 years old, after an initial report on Thursday night that a boat may have washed ashore, Lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett said.

Haskett referred to the whale as Wally, a name the humpback received after being tagged by biologists last year. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit Marine Animal Rescue are working to determine why the whale died.

A rare sight on local beaches, the whale carcass attracted crowds of onlookers throughout the day.

“I love whales and I hate to see one dead like this. The big head, the big flippers — it’s a magnificent animal. I know they say it’s the cycle of life, but it’s still sad,” said Rancho Palos Verdes resident Corin Sutherland.

— Gary Walker and Shanee Edwards