The decomposing body of a 40-foot sperm whale washed ashore today on the beach near Chetco Point in Brookings and no attempt will be made to bury it.

People were encouraged to observe the whale from a safe distance, "upwind strongly recommended," according to a Oregon Parks and Recreation Department official.

Chetco Point is located next to the city's wastewater treatment plant at the end of Wharf Street. The whale is located on a small section of sandy beach along an otherwise rocky shoreline.

The city, which received a report of the whale early this morning, contacted the state agency, which determined this afternoon that it was best to let the whale decompose on the beach.

The sand at the beach is too shallow to bury the animal, officials said.

State park staff will rope off an area around the whale carcass. Officials recommended that people stay a safe distances from the whale for health and safety reasons. Pets should be kept on a tight leash to prevent them from coming in contact with the carcass. Tampering with or collecting pieces from a dead whale is prohibited by federal law.

Officials said the carcass will decompose naturally, be picked apart by scavengers such as gulls and turkey vultures, or be carried back out on the high tide.

Dead whales and other marine mammals are not uncommon on the Oregon shore, but sperm whales are more rare than the grey whales that migrate annually offshore, officials said.