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San Luis Obispo’s Wandering Whale Statue Needs a Home

The four-ton concrete sperm whale has been on the road since 2011.

Every Goodwill in the country is full of stuff you never knew you needed. As local TV station KSBY reports, though, visitors to San Luis Obispo, California’s outpost now have the ability to consider a truly life-changing purchase: a 40-year-old, 4-ton sperm whale with a crab pot embedded in its head, made out of steel pipes and concrete.

If concrete sperm whales could talk, this one would certainly have a story to tell. Since it can’t, its creator, Donald E. Hedrick, has picked up the slack, writing out the whale’s detailed history on www.homelesswhale.org.

Hedrick built the whale over the course of 5 months in 1975 and ‘76. Its original home was a seafood restaurant called The Whale’s Tail, where the many kids who liked to climb on its head made the charming cetacean “the most photographed thing in Morro Bay,” Hedrick writes. “It has been guessed that a million people have had their picture taken in front of that whale.”

In 2011, the Whale’s Tail lost its lease, and the business that replaced it was required to expand the sidewalk out front. “The whale could not suck in its gut to pull in the one foot it would have intruded into the planned new sidewalk,” writes Hedrick, “so it had to go.”

The city told Hedrick that he could have it back, as long as he did the work of removing and transporting it. He did: “it impressed him that an old man would work so hard with a jackhammer,” he told KSBY. And he has: he’s been touring the whale around ever since, bringing it to “personal appearances” at community and ocean-related events in an attempt to drum up a buyer.

Thus far, there have been no takers, though—thus this most recent personal appearance, outside of Goodwill.

If you’d like to save this particular whale, you can write to Hedrick at the email address listed at the bottom of his website. But be warned: after all the whale has been through, he’s considering serious offers only. “It must be the right thing to do,” he writes.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.