Rockport officials say whale carcass will just rot in place; curious onlookers drawn to the scene

Rockport officials have decided they’ll let a finback whale slowly decompose on the rocky shore of the town rather than bury it.

The giant carcass is in an area off Penzance Road, between Milk Island and Straitsmouth Island.

Cars lined the narrow street today as onlookers young and old came to take a look at the 54-foot carcass, despite its smell, which resembled the aroma of hot garbage on a summer day. About two dozen people visited over the course of several hours.

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David Taylor, a retired high schoolteacher, cut into the carcass to remove the vestigial pelvic bone, which he placed in a trash bag to take to the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth.

He said the bone, which is not anchored to the rest of the skeleton, often gets washed away. If a museum in the future wants to collect the skeleton, the bone could be reunited with it. If no one wants the skeleton, the bone could end up at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, he said.

The carcass had spent most of October drifting around Boston Harbor.