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Whale carcass rotting on Newfoundland beach to be removed after nearly two weeks

The rotting carcass of a humpback, shown in this June 2, 2017 handout photo, is set to be removed from a beach near St. John's, N.L., after two weeks of bureaucratic wrangling, according to the town's mayor.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - John Kennedy
June 03, 2017 - 6:30 PM

OUTER COVE, N.L. - The putrid carcass of a humpback whale that has been rotting on a beach in Newfoundland and Labrador for nearly two weeks is set to be removed.

Mayor John Kennedy of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, a small community near St. John's, said the dead whale washed ashore on May 22. He said the carcass has been hemmed in near the shore of Outer Cove by a slab of ice, preventing it from floating back out to sea.

Kennedy said the animal is estimated to have died a month before its unwelcome arrival in his town. Spectators have flocked to see the approximately six-week-old decomposing humpback, but Kennedy said he doesn't think there's much to look at, or perhaps more pungently, smell.

"I can't for the life of me see the fascination," Kennedy said. "If you've ever smelled any kind of a dead animal, just realize there's 20,000 pounds (9070 kilograms) of dead animal there."

The blubbery remains have washed over the beach, giving it an oily sheen, said Kennedy, forcing him to consider declaring a state of emergency due to health concerns.

"It was crawling with bacteria," said Kennedy. "I couldn't take a chance of someone going down there and catching something off of that. It's not right."

Kennedy said it has taken days of bureaucratic wrangling to arrange for the disposal of the partially submerged corpse. Federal agencies resisted taking responsibility for the bloated mess, he said, and the town of 20,000 people doesn't have to resources to get rid of the remains on its own.

"This is government red tape at its finest," said Kennedy. "It took two weeks of basically publicly shaming the federal government."

Kennedy said the town is working with the federal fisheries department to pull the carcass from the water and take it to be buried at a hazardous waste site. He said the removal should be complete by mid-next week, weather permitting.

The question of who will foot the bill has yet to be worked out, according to Kennedy, but the mayor said cost isn't his chief concern right now.

"We just want to get it done," said Kennedy. "Hopefully by the middle of the next week, this will be just a bad memory."

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans could not be reached for comment Saturday.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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