A blue whale carcass is decomposing along the shores of a hamlet on Canada’s east coast, raising fears that it will explode.
According to Emily Butler, the town clerk in Trout River, Newfoundland, the 28-yard blue whale has beached close to a community boardwalk and generating a strong stink that is spreading across the 600-person hamlet.
She and others in town are terrified that the methane gas produced by decomposition would cause the animal to explode.
‘We’re concerned…because I’m not sure if the heat and gases contained inside this mammal may burst at some point,’ she said.
However, according to Jack Lawson, a research scientist with Canada’s Fisheries Department, the risk of such a blast is’very minimal.’
‘At some point, the skin of the animal will lose part of its integrity as all of the connective tissue begins to break down,’ he explained.
‘That gas will eventually leak out….
It’ll simply deflate like an old balloon.’
Nonetheless, Mr Lawson warned that the 60-tonne carcass could contain viruses or germs that could make people sick.
‘The risk will come from someone with a sharp blade deciding to cut a hole in the side to see what happens, or from someone being foolish enough to walk on it,’ he said.
Hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com has even been put up particularly to keep people updated while they wait for the whale to explode.
He said he’s seen YouTube images of a bloated, beached sperm whale in the Faroe Islands exploding as a scientist cuts into its bottom with a huge knife.
‘With this animal (in Newfoundland), it’s quite uncommon, especially suddenly,’ he said.
Large beached whales, according to the scientist, can either be buried with heavy machinery or broken up and delivered to a landfill.
Ms Butler requested assistance in removing the carcass from the province’s environment and government services agencies and the federal fisheries agency.
She stated that the town council contemplated requesting fisherman to tow the mammal out to sea, but decided that such a task would need to be overseen by someone with knowledge.
‘Nobody has ever been properly educated in the removal of whale carcasses of this scale,’ she explained.
The whale is one of three that have washed up on the west coast of Newfoundland.