Whale near Canso Causeway 'definitely did not die of old age'

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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SYDNEY — A cursory examination of a whale carcass beached on the Cape Breton coastline near the Canso Causeway indicates the mammal did not die of old age, according to an official with the Marine Animal Response Society.

Photographer Gary Brinton captured this image of a deceased fin whale near shore in Port Hastings.

Society co-ordinator Andrew Reid said a full necropsy would have to be performed on the 16-metre fin whale before a cause of death is determined.

The whale is now partly ashore on the coast near the information centre after the locks were opened to allow it to float south of the causeway following the first sighting of the dead whale Thursday.

“It definitely did not die of old age as it was 55 feet long, and when full sized they can get up to 90 feet,” said Reid. “We would like to do a full necropsy to see it there are any broken bones that could indicate a ship strike or any other damage or sickness in its organs.”

Reid said the length of the whale indicates it was probably a juvenile.

With the carcass now partially accessible, the Marine Animal Response Society was able to take pictures, tissue samples and measurements of blubber thickness in an effort to get an idea of what happened to the whale.

Reid said the fate of the decomposing carcass is still uncertain.

“Ideally, we would like to do a full examination and then dispose of the body, but that is a costly measure,” said Reid, who estimated the cost could be as high as $10,000.

There have also been reports that the rotting carcass is responsible for some unpleasant smells for people arriving on Cape Breton.

"It smells horrible and as soon as you cross the causeway you can notice it," said Reid.

"It decomposed quite rapidly over the weekend with the storm and then the warm weather."

The Cape Breton Post was unable to reach officials with the Municipality of Inverness for comment on the possible removal of the whale.

Whale sightings can be reported to the society by calling 1-866-567-6277.

Organizations: Marine Animal Response Society, Cape Breton Post

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Inverness

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