Rotting blue whale carcass worrying Canadian fishing village

“It’s only going to be a matter of time before it warms up and the smell becomes unbearable,” Trout River Town Clerk Emily Butler said.
By Brooks Hays   |   April 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM   |   Comments

TROUT RIVER, Newfoundland, April 29 (UPI) -- The rotting stench of a bloated blue whale has residents of Trout River, Canada, worried. The dead whale washed ashore more than a week ago and has since doubled in size -- its belly like an overinflated balloon.

Locals are concerned with the growing stench, and also apprehensive about the possibility that it's methane-filled stomach might soon explode -- spewing stinky whale guts all over the beach and boardwalk.

The whale is one of nine that were reported dead off the coast of Newfoundland, apparently crushed by a large ice flow that changed directions and trapped the pod of giant mammals.

According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, several have been found beached along the West Coast of the Canadian island: one in Trout River, one in Rocky Harbour, and another in the Bakers Brook area.

Normally, a beached whale carcass on a lonely stretch of shore can simply be left to rot -- carried off and consumed, piece by piece, by carnivores and predators. But right off the boardwalk of a town like Trout River, a humongous dead whale is more of a problem.

“It’s only going to be a matter of time before it warms up and the smell becomes unbearable,” Trout River Town Clerk Emily Butler said.

Understandably, businesses along the boardwalk are worried about the damper the growing smell could put on storefront traffic during tourist season.

But a small fishing village like Trout River doesn't exactly have the resources to haul off a giant blue whale. Not only that, the town also needs a special permit to carve up and dispose of an endangered species like a blue whale.

For researchers like Dr. Jack Lawson, with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the occurrence is sad but compelling.

“We rarely get a chance to look at a whole blue whale,” he Lawson said. “So, this is an opportunity for us to collect samples from animals that normally aren’t easy to find and approach.”

“For scientists, even a dead animal is a source of excitement.”

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