Canada’s DFO warned that the rotting carcasses of, currently three, blue whales around the Trout River and Rocky Harbour Newfoundland will need to be cleaned up by the local municipality. Each of the carcasses is nearly 85 feet long and 80 tonnes in weight. Both the weight and various other issues pertaining to decomposition will become major factors in their removal.
DFO scientist Jack Lawson mentioned that, as the blue whale is endangered, a permit must be issued before the bodies can be handled. Such permits are given to governing bodies, though the Trout River’s whale has already been unofficially handled due to someone sawing off a fore flipper without the permit. Possession of body parts from an endangered animal is illegal.
Other worries with these decaying whales come in the form of the various, airborne, bacteria and viruses within their bodies. Gasses common to decomposition would also risk passersby falling into the softened corpse.
Common removal methods for such massive animals involve heavy equipment, such as burying the bodies in trenches or hauling them away to a remote place to continue decomposing.
Lawson remarks that these whales will likely be broken apart for easier transit. He went on to say that it would be best to let the other bodies decompose more in order to ease the extrication process. Lastly, he stated that there is still an issue with residue after the removal, such as mussels becoming tainted by fluid from the corpses.
The trio of beached whales is regarded as being from the same group of whales as nine others found beached off the coast of southwestern Newfoundland in the spring of last year. A quarter of other dead whales were seen in some of the ice around Rocky Harbour last week, leading Lawson to think that they choose to move further offshore.
Now that the Rocky Harbour whale has deflated, Lawson hopes that its pod mates will have also collapsed at sea. If that is the case, those whale carcasses should sink below the surface of the water, likely avoiding the opportunity to become transportation hazards.
According to CTV, the town’s managers fear the fascination will soon turn to disgust.
“With the warm temperatures coming on we’re really concerned about the smell from this,” Emily Butler told NTV on Monday. “We are also concerned with the health aspect of this animal being on the beach line.”
Here are some examples of the risky nature of whale disposal:
DFO scientist warns of health hazards posed by decomposing whales