Thursday, 5 January 2012

Town buries beached whale

A whale that washed up on Stephenville Beach and was attracting a lot of attention from onlookers can't be seen anymore. That's because the animal has been buried onsite by the town's public works department. The mammal, which was believed to be about 18 feet in length, washed ashore sometime during the early morning hours of Dec. 30 when there were high seas that were propelled by high winds. It was not known how the whale died. However, from a photo of the animal sent to Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Stranding Newfoundland and Labrador, he identified it as either a long finned pilot whale or a pothead whale and said it looked like a full-grown animal. From previous experience with dead seals that had washed up on Stephenville Beach, Ted Gracie, director of municipal services with the Town of Stephenville, said he made the decision to bury the whale as quickly as possible. He learned from the previous incidents that once a sea creature comes up across the high water mark, that it is the responsibility of the town to dispose of the animal. That work was carried out during the evening of Jan. 4 utilizing a backhoe, as conditions were favourable at the time. Mr. Gracie said digging a hole on the beach and covering the animal up was the most prudent course of action, as the animal was buried below the upper wave action and allows for the washing away of any rot and there is minimal, if any resulting odour. He said last winter they even had to contend with several live seals personnel, which the town's public works basically drove back into the water. One was on the local golf course and there was a fear that some young person might go up to pet it and get bitten, so it was driven into the water and made its way from there.

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