Time ticks down for Newfoundland town searching for solution before whale explodes
Doris Sheppard told a lie the other day, a small white lie, rooted in the goodness of her heart and uttered with the truest of intentions to a group of young children that were milling about on the boardwalk overlooking the beach in Trout River, N.L. Kids, being kids, get into all sorts of stuff in Trout River. It is a town of 600 people where people don’t lock their doors and where eight, nine and 10-year-olds are allowed to roam free, just like the good old days.
And, lately, the place for them to roam has been the town’s beach, a trove for skipping rocks and sea glass and, as of last Friday, the final resting place for one very large, very dead, very bloated blue whale.
“Kids are curious,” says Ms. Sheppard, the owner, along with her husband, Tom, of Sheppard’s B and B and a frequent visitor to the beach in recent days to take pictures of the dead whale. “The kids were wanting to go over and poke at it. They were wanting to go out and jump on the whale, and it is filling up with methane gas.
“I said to them, ‘My God, don’t you be doing that, because if that whale bursts you’ll be blown to smithereens.’ That’s what I said — and then they asked me if I knew their parents — which I didn’t. But I told them I did anyway.
“It is a novel thing, the whale.”
It is a nightmare, the whale, a decaying mass of blubber and baleen and flesh measuring about 25 metres from tip to whale tail and weighing approximately 80 tonnes. Imagine 30 or so dead elephants appearing on your doorstep, unannounced, and you can imagine what the people in Trout River, a picturesque tourist town in Gros Morne National Park, are thinking. Which, in a word, is: How the hell are we going to get rid of this potentially explosive blue whale before the summer high season begins?
“We don’t know what to do,” says Emily Butler, the town manager. “The whale is there on our beach. It has been there since Friday. We are heading into tourist season. I’ve contacted the Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment Canada — and all these departments keep saying that the whale is on municipal property, and so it is the responsibility of the town.”
Nine blue whales got trapped in the ice and perished off western Newfoundland this winter, an unprecedented mass death of an endangered species that numbers only about 250 off of the Newfoundland coast. Three of the dead whales have drifted ashore, in Baker’s Brook, Rocky Harbour and Trout River. (Source: National Post)
— mackaycartoons (@mackaycartoons) May 1, 2014