Whales: Canadian Towns Fear Washed-Up Carcasses Could Explode

Image: Whales: Canadian Towns Fear Washed-Up Carcasses Could Explode

Thursday, 01 May 2014 05:13 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Three blue whales have washed up dead in Canadian towns along the Newfoundland coast, and citizens are concerned the rotting whale carcasses may explode.

One of the whales is 81 feet long and an estimated 60 tons, and as methane gases build up inside the giant animals, officials fear it could burst, says CTV News.

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The whales are part of the nine whales that were found dead in April, believed to have been killed by heavy ice while they were feeding. It was thought they would wash out to sea, but these three didn’t do so.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans have said that it is the responsibility of the local towns to remove the whales, but also indicated that dragging the whale back out to sea would be a navigation issue, CTV said.

While the idea of an exploding whale may not seem serious, a YouTube video of just that in the Faroe Islands shows that the explosion can be quite violent. (Warning: The video in this link is graphic.)

A research scientist in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans told the National Post that as the whale skin loses integrity, there are some safety issues should it explode.

“If someone were to walk along, say, the chin — that is full of all that gas — they could fall in the whale,” Jack Lawson told the Post. “The insides will be liquefied. Retrieving them would be very difficult. I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest. It’s not very nice. And if the animal is up against the shore and there are waves battering it, and it’s moving, then you can imagine what would happen if it rolled over onto a child.”

The sea creature also is full of diseases, Lawson told the Post.

The situation is worrisome for the Canadian towns affected, including Trout River and Rocky Harbour, because many people are flocking to see the huge mammals and have their pictures taken with them.

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