Feds to help museum take ownership of blue whales: Shea

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Frank Gale
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Cape St. George mayor hoping for help with sperm whale carcass in Marche’s Point

A sperm whale on Marche's Point beach

Early Wednesday, the Town of Rocky Harbour found itself in the same boat as nearby Trout River when it came to having a dead blue whale washed up on its shore.

Rocky Harbour Mayor Walt Nicolle laughed when he asks, “You want a whale?” followed by, “Could you find someone who wants one for us?”

Turns out someone does want the whale, along with the one in Trout River.  

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea took to Twitter late Wednesday afternoon to make an announcement about the animals.

“DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) is currently working with a (Canadian) museum on an agreement to take ownership of the remains (of) the beached whales in #NL,” Shea tweeted through her account, @CPCGailShea.

“The agreement will benefit impacted communities (and) ensure these magnificent whales contribute to the education of museum visitors. I am also pleased to report that DFO is onsite to mitigate the risk of these carcasses to public safety until they are removed.”

The whale in Rocky Harbour is one of four that came in with the ice in the town’s harbour over the Easter weekend. It’s located on the south side of the town near the fish plant and, while the one in Trout River is inflated “like a balloon” with gases, Nicolle said the one in Rocky Harbour is deflated and starting to decompose.

“It’s got to go within the next couple of weeks, definitely,” said Nicolle on Wednesday.

“The weather is starting to warm up, it’s starting to smell. If you go out close there you can smell it now,” he said.

Cape St. George Mayor Peter Fenwick, meanwhile, is also hoping for help in removing the carcass of 40-foot sperm whale that washed ashore in Marche’s Point within the town’s boundaries.

Fenwick said it appears the whale died recently and said he was surprised to see it washed up on a shore in St. George’s Bay, since sperm whales are typically deep-water mammals.

After making inquiries to the Whales Release and Strandings Group, Fenwick also learned it is the town’s responsibility the remove the carcass that is close to some homes. He said efforts are underway to have the animal towed to a more remote location.

Fenwick said he talked to the people who live closest to the location who stated their concerns over the stench that would likely come from the animal.

He went to the wharf hoping to hire a local boat owner to tow the whale from shore, but was told by fishermen that none of their boats were powerful enough to remove the animal.

Fenwick said he will also contact DFO for assistance.

The Western Star also contacted Parks Canada for comment after reports of another blue whale had washed ashore at Baker’s Brook in Gros Morne National Park.

A spokesperson for Parks Canada said a survey of the area by staff and local fishermen had not revealed any sign of a whale at Baker’s Brook.

As for the situation in Trout River and Rocky Harbour, the spokesperson provided a statement from Parks Canada that said the whales are not located within the park’s boundary, but Parks Canada will offer its support if there is any aspect to the strategy chosen to deal with the whales that it would have the capacity to help with.

 

 

EARLIER STORY

A sperm whale, about 40 feet in length, has washed up on the shore at Marche’s Point, which is within the boundaries of the Town of Cape St. George on the Port au Port Peninsula.

Mayor Peter Fenwick said he learned the whale is the municipality’s responsibility and that efforts are underway to try and get the carcass towed from its current location, which is fairly close to some homes, to a more remote location.

He said it appears the whale only died recently and was surprised to see it washed up on a shore in St. George’s Bay since these are typically deep water mammals.

Geographic location: Port au Port Peninsula

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