Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Says It's in Talks with Museum to Remove Beached Newfoundland Whales

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Says It's in Talks with Museum to Remove Beached Newfoundland Whales

Article excerpt

Disposal of rotting whales a unique challenge


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - It's no small matter to deal with a mammoth whale carcass, a sad cleanup job that seaside officials around the world have approached with varying success.

Turns out using 20 cases of dynamite to blow the thing up isn't the best idea. Proof of this was famously recorded in Florence, Ore., in 1970. About 75 bystanders watching half a kilometre away had to flee from raining chunks of sperm whale blubber, including one that flattened a car.

What are better options?

It's a question provincial and federal officials are now discussing to help small towns on Newfoundland's west coast deal with the rotting remains of two blue whales near Trout River and Rocky Harbour.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea posted on Twitter late Wednesday that Ottawa is working with a Canadian museum on an agreement to take ownership of the remains of the beached whales.

Shea said the deal with the undisclosed institution will benefit the affected communities "and ensure these magnificent whales contribute to the education of museum visitors."

Shea said federal Fisheries staff are on site to limit any public safety risks until the whales are removed. No other details were offered.

A spokeswoman for Shea declined to say which museum the government was working with, adding that more information will be available Thursday. Sophie Doucet said in an email that it's expected to be a couple of days before the whales are removed.

The whales were among nine that died trapped in thick sea ice earlier this spring, said Jack Lawson, a researcher with the federal Fisheries Department. A third whale that washed ashore has since drifted away from Bakers Brook off the coast of Gros Morne National Park, he said.

A mammal that size could be dangerous for mariners if towed to sea and it's too big and blubbery to burn. Beached whales in other parts of the world have been buried on site, cut up or loaded on to flatbed trucks and hauled to landfills.

In Trout River, town officials have appealed for help to remove a stinking, 26-metre long carcass sitting near waterfront businesses and a restaurant.

Lawson had said Tuesday that the whale is above the high water mark and is the province's responsibility. …

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