Newfoundlanders fear rotting whale carcasses could soon explode
Published Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:10AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:15AM EDT
Residents of two small towns in Newfoundland are worried the giant blue whales that have washed ashore could soon explode, and it appears they’ve been left to dispose of the rotting carcasses themselves.
Three of the mammoth marine mammals beached on the west end of the island, close to Rocky Harbour and Trout River, this past weekend.
In Trout River, a tourist community, a nearly 26-metre-long whale carcass continues to draw interest from curious residents, but the town's manager fears 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."
As the whale decomposes, its corpse fills with methane gas. Town officials fear that it will continue to swell until it eventually explodes.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it will likely be up to the local and provincial governments to find a way to dispose of the rotting blue whale carcasses, but Butler said the small town does not have the money or the resources to do so.
"The response we're getting is basically that, this is on the beach and we could naturally let it decompose here," Butler said.
She added that, if the whale pushed back into the ocean, the DFO would consider its potential interference with marine navigation.
The endangered blue whales were among nine that were found dead off Newfoundland's coast earlier this month. The DFO had expected weather patterns and water currents to float the carcasses out to sea.
It's believed the whales drowned or were crushed by heavy ice while feeding.