That's right. We think it's a sub-adult male Cuvier's beaked whale
. That's pretty rare in the Monterey Bay! It wasn't as big as the adult in the drawing - it was about 3m long.
Here's how it went down: we got a call to the stranding network (our lab deals with the dead animals called in) about a dead dolphin at Asilomar state beach. The stranding coordinator wasn't in yet so we decided to wait til she arrived. Then about an hour later, we got a call from another ranger that the dolphin was in the surf zone and if we wanted it we'd better come and get it before it got swept away. The coordinator (who's also a grad student in the lab) arrived then anyway so four of us took the stretcher and the pickup truck to collect what we thought would be a bottlenose dolphin and take it back to the lab for necropsy.
When we got there, we went "man, that's a bigass dolphin. Wait..." The dorsal fin was further back than a dolphin's and it had a pretty short beak. And it was way too heavy for the four of us to even roll onto the stretcher, let alone carry to the truck. We couldn't take it back to the lab, therefore we'd have to do a field necropsy. Except the tide was coming in and it was getting dark, so we had to tie it to an anchor and leave it until low tide tomorrow.
There were spectators walking by. A few had video cameras. So I'll see if I'm on YouTube in a few days. I did get a photo of me with the whale but it's on the lab camera so I don't have the file yet. I'll post it here when I get it. Don't worry, the whale isn't all gross or anything. People asked if it was alive but from the condition of the skin, it was probably floating for a day or so before it washed up (but my photo is with the good side up - whenever a big enough wave came up, we floated/rolled it as far up the beach as we could). A bunch of people asked if it'd been killed by a shark - a great white shark attacked a surfer last week, which is really rare here - but there weren't any obvious injuries. Then there were the dumb ones like "did it get caught in a trap?" Yes. A whale trap. And someone asked "aren't you worried someone might steal it? [since we're leaving it overnight]" Not without a small crane, they won't. Hypothetically, that would be illegal anyway. You have to have a permit.
A bunch of people wanted to touch it, and did when we weren't standing right there guarding it. Not that it matters to us; we're mostly concerned with sampling the internal organs. But dude, it's a dead animal! We're wearing these gloves for a reason! Not that there's a huge risk of disease transmission but I'll bet they wouldn't walk up and touch roadkill.
In conclusion: best. job. evar.