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Newfoundland village looking to get rid of massive, long-dead humpback whale

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—A tiny Newfoundland village is hoping to quickly remove the massive body of a humpback whale that has been stuck there since last fall, fearing the impending odour and mess as warmer weather approaches.

The whale’s body was frozen and covered with snow for the winter months in Nameless Cove, but has become an urgent issue for the village.

A beached whale in Nameless Cove, N.L. that's been washed ashore since last fall is shown in a handout photo. A tiny Newfoundland village is trying to quickly remove the massive body of a humpback whale that has been stuck there since last fall, fearing the impending odour and mess as warmer weather approaches.
A beached whale in Nameless Cove, N.L. that’s been washed ashore since last fall is shown in a handout photo. A tiny Newfoundland village is trying to quickly remove the massive body of a humpback whale that has been stuck there since last fall, fearing the impending odour and mess as warmer weather approaches.  (Hank Diamond / supplied photo)

“The warmer temperatures are coming and you obviously know what’s gonna happen next,” Hank Diamond, a member of the local service district committee, said Wednesday.

“You won’t be able live in that community in the summer, probably, if you don’t move it.”

Nameless Cove is waiting on a price quote from contractors, and Diamond said the community is hoping for provincial assistance to remove the sizable creature that he estimates to be 25-30 feet.

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“It would take a fairly fair sized vessel to move that off the beach even at high tide, you know, and it seems to be settling in the sand more, so it’s gonna be harder and harder to get outta there, and it’s starting to rot.”

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The body is in close proximity to some residences, wharves, and is less than 100 metres from a graveyard.

The beach is also a tourist attraction for its proximity to Flowers Island. The whale’s body is currently in the line of vision for anyone hoping to snap a photo of the island’s famed lighthouse.

Diamond reached out to Service NL after Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) told Nameless Cove the removal of the whale carcass is the municipality’s responsibility.

In an e-mailed statement, Service NL said it is working with the district and “the whale will have to be moved and disposed of, either by towing it to a more secluded location to decompose or by burial.”

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Dead smelly whales are not uncommon an issue for seaside Newfoundlanders: Last June, a dead humpback was lifted by crane in Outer Cove, N.L., and taken to a disposal site.

But small communities like Nameless Cove, armed with tiny boats and a population under 100 people in northern Newfoundland, are faced with a difficult task when whales wash ashore.

Diamond said DFO officials visited the site last fall to assess the beached whale, leading many locals to believe they would return to remove the body in the spring. Then villagers were surprised and upset when DFO told them it fell outside the department’s responsibility.

“It’s like Russian roulette, whatever community it lands on, it’s on you,” Diamond said.

So far, Diamond said the response from Service NL has been encouraging. But the town needs to move fast on the difficult removal, with or without the government’s help.

“If they support it or if they don’t, it’s got to move,” said Diamond. “We’ll see to it I guess.”

TORONTO STAR