Page One

California Briefs

Saturday June 22, 2002

Rarely seen whale found dead on Southern California beach 


LOS ANGELES — A three-ton whale found dead in Manhattan Beach on Friday is of a type rarely seen, researchers said. 

The 18-foot-long Cuvier’s beaked whale resembles a giant bottlenose dolphin, said John Heyning, deputy director of research and collection with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The males have a single pair of teeth, the females none. 

Though not endangered, the whales are rarely spotted because they are “very secretive,” live far offshore, and can dive deep and stay underwater for a half-hour when a boat approaches, Heyning said. 

Lifeguards found the animal north of the Manhattan Beach Pier. Its huge body was placed on a flatbed truck and taken to the museum’s marine mammal warehouse in Vernon. 

Scientists will dissect and analyze the carcass and may learn more about the whales, Heyning said. 

Little is known about their feeding or reproductive habits, although they are known to eat squid, fish, crabs, and starfish. 

“Opportunities that scientists have to work on them are fairly rare,” Heyning said. 

They also will try to determine what killed the animal. A naturally occurring toxin called domoic acid, found in a certain type of algae, is suspected of killing dozens of dolphins and sickening hundreds of sea lions and pelicans in California this year. They apparently ate anchovies, other small fish and shellfish such as crabs that fed on the plankton. 

But no whales had washed ashore until now, Heyning said. 

Another possibility is noise pollution. A federal study released last year found that Navy sonar tests probably caused 16 whales to beach themselves in the Bahamas two years ago. Six whales died, including five Cuvier’s beaked whales. 

Each of the whales had hemorrhaged near its ears. The report said the wounds would not be fatal but could have led the animals to become disoriented. 


Four plead innocent to killing of Riverside gay man 


RIVERSIDE — Four reputed gang members were charged with murder and committing a hate crime Friday in connection with the deadly stabbing of a gay man outside a bar. 

The men appeared in Superior Court but their arraignment was postponed to Monday. 

Witnesses said one attacker yelled a gay slur before stabbing Jeffery Owens, 40, of Moreno Valley and Michael Bussee, 48, of Riverside, on June 5 in the parking lot of the gay bar Menagerie. The two had been at the bar to celebrate a friend’s birthday. 

Owens, an AIDS activist, was stabbed at least four times and died at a hospital. 

Viviano Cruz Martin, 25; Miguel Angel Ramos, 28; Ramin Meza Rabago, 18; and Dorian Lee Gutierrez, 18, all of Riverside, were arrested Wednesday. 

They were charged Friday with murder and allegations that the killing was a hate crime and done as part of gang activity. Gutierrez also was charged with attempted murder for the alleged stabbing of a second man. 

Another man, David Martinez, 28, of Riverside, surrendered Friday and was charged with murder and the allegation of gang activity. 

They could face life in prison if convicted of all charges. 

Gutierrez’s mother denied that the attack was a hate crime. It was a fight that started over a pool game, she told KCAL-TV. 

“It’s not like they just drove up and attacked these men. They didn’t do that. It was provoked,” Maria Gutierrez said.