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Community Fears 80-Ton Blue Whale Carcass Will Explode on its Shore

Apr 30, 2014 05:00 PM EDT
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The rotting carcass of a 85-foot-long blue whale has created a spectacle in the Newfoundland, Canada, town of Trout River, with some residents of the sleepy seaside community fearing gasses erupting from the dead whale could cause it to burst.

Local authorities are still trying to come up with a solution for what to do with the 60-ton blue whale carcass, which is drawing spectators as it creates a stench that wafts through the community of 600 along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

"I'm not sure with the heat and gases that are trapped inside of this mammal if at some point in time it will explode," Town Clerk Emily Butler told The Associated Press.

The whale's carcass is bloating as it decomposes, releasing methane gas. However, the chances that it will explode are slim, according to the AP, which cited Jack Lawson, a research scientist with Canada's Fisheries Department.

It's possible that local fears over the whale carcass exploding were sparked by a viral video last year where a marine biologist at the National Museum of the Faroe Islands cuts open a dead sperm whale with explosive results.

A more realistic concern is that local tourism will be affected by the rotting carcass.

"Normally we advertise whales to get people to come, where the restaurant is right on the beach and we often have whales in the cove frolicking about, but we don't want a dead whale as an attraction," Jenny Parsons, who owns Seaside Restaurant in Trout River, told CBC News.

Using a local longline fishing boat to tow the whale carcass out to sea has been ruled out by local authorities.

"I'm not willing to take on the responsibility," clerk Butler told The Telegram."If that whale does explode, we don't know what danger that would be to our infrastructure, the longliner itself, or to people."

The costs and logistics of moving the whale carcass have stalled the removal process, with local government saying the financial cost and safety risks are too great, and Canadian authorities placing the burden of moving the carcass on the town.

Another blue whale carcass recently washed ashore in nearby Rocky Harbour. Both towns are located near Gros Morne National Park.

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