Newfoundland town hopes to rid itself of dead whale, fast: ‘Yuck b’y’

A dead whale is shown washed up on shore in Outer Cove, N.L. on Monday, May 22, 2017. A rotting, putrid whale remains lodged on a Newfoundland beach, as a picturesque seaside town tries to come up with a plan to get rid of it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Handout - Department of Fisheries and Oceans

LOGY BAY, N.L. – A rotting, putrid whale remains lodged on a Newfoundland beach, as a picturesque seaside town tries to come up with a plan to get rid of it.

The dead humpback washed ashore in Outer Cove, just north of St. John’s, N.L., on Monday, drawing a crowd keen to see both it and a nearby iceberg.

Officials had hoped the whale would leave with the tide, but the town is now forced to find a way to get rid of it.

The Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove town council held a meeting Wednesday night to talk about their options.

Mayor John Kennedy says they’ve been having a difficult time navigating the provincial bureaucracy.

He says both options – towing it away to a new location or disposing of it where it is – require approval from different government agencies, but he hopes to have it gone by next week.

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“Someone get a whale removal machine to Outer Cove beach because yuck b’y,” Kerri MacDonald, a TV writer from neighbouring Middle Cove, tweeted Thursday.

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The town was contacted by the Department of Municipal Affairs on Wednesday and told they could apply for a $30,000 special assistance grant, but only after they come up with a plan.

Kennedy says he understands things in government take time, but the town is anxious to dispose of the whale before it becomes an even bigger problem.

He says they can’t decide which option they’re going to choose because it’s going to take more information, but council wants the carcass gone as soon as possible.

“It smells like a dead whale and it’s not a very nice smell, I can tell ya that,” Kennedy said Tuesday.

“The weather here hasn’t been warm, but when it warms up it’s only going to get worse.”

Jack Lawson, a Fisheries research scientist in St. John’s, visited the site Monday and said it appeared to be a male humpback measuring about 12 metres that had likely died weeks earlier judging by the extensive level of decomposition.

He said it was quite flat and that most of the skin on upper part of its body had sloughed off.

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“It’s kind of collapsed into what looks like a big, flabby, pleated bag,” he said. “The rocks were quite slick with fresh whale fat and people were wandering around and someone even put their dog on top of the whale to let it run around.”

Lawson said it’s not uncommon for marine mammals to wash ashore in the province, which is a popular feeding habitat for many species.

He said humpbacks – also known as big-winged New Englanders because of their large fins – feast on capelin, herring and other bait-fish in the area and are at good population levels.

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