DIGBY, N.S.—A dead whale has washed up in the same area of western Nova Scotia that has seen scores of dead herring, starfish, clams and lobster litter the shoreline — but fisheries officials say it’s too early to say whether the deaths are related.
“From our house we can look out and watch them jump out of the water in the summertime. You can hear them blow and . . . you can see them breach and it’s sad to think that’s one of those whales that we watched.”
Fisheries officials say it’s too early to say whether the whale’s death is related to a mysterious fish kill that appears to have spread to new species, including starfish, clams, lobsters and mussels now washing ashore alongside thousands of herring.
Smedbol said if the habitat on the ocean floor looks to be in good health, officials would likely rule out any local environmental issue, and it would be unlikely the whale death is related to the fish kill.
But if the sampling reveals a general die-off in the subtidal area, then it might make sense to look at whether there is a connection, he said.
Smedbol said the juvenile whale has likely been dead for “some time” — perhaps weeks. He said photos suggest there has been decomposition of the whale’s interior organs and tissues.
The department hasn’t decided whether a necropsy will be done. Smedbol said there are only a few people in North America who have the expertise to perform the procedure on a large whale, and given its decomposed state, a necropsy may not provide a lot of information.
“If it was blunt force trauma, we would probably be able to determine that. But if it was an illness or toxins … it would be very difficult to draw definitive conclusions on those causes of death,” Smedbol said. “So the department will have to weigh the options.”