SAN FRANCISCO— Shorelines are often littered with driftwood and other trash and treasures that wash ashore. But one item caught the eye of beachgoer Elke Teichmann when she spotted something unusual looking on the sand of Fort Funston beach.
The recent storms that California has been experiencing bring everything to shore. As a result, pieces of wood had washed up on the beach, and Teichmann said she’d been looking at reddish-colored wood fragments that she hadn’t seen washed up before. As she further investigated, Teichmann noticed a funny-shaped white object lying on the shoreline.
“It was clearly a huge bone,” said Teichmann in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Teichmann said she could recognize the bone because of a marine biology class she took. As a result, Teichmann could recognize that it was a bone, but what part of the whale the bone was from was unclear.
Robert Boessenecker, a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology, told the San Francisco Chronicle the bone appeared to be the braincase of a gray whale, the part of the skull that encases the brain.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gray whales can reach 42 to 49 feet in length and weigh up to 90,000 pounds. The massive marine mammals are found mainly in the north Pacific Ocean. During the summer, the whales can be found feeding along the Pacific coast from southern Alaska to Northern California.
Teichmann, who frequents the beach with her golden retriever, said she’d never seen anything like that before on the beach.
“It was just really neat,” said Teichmann in the interview. “I wish I’d had my big camera. It was just so beautiful.”