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Dead minke whale washes up on Queensland Beach


A dead minke whale washed up at Queensland Beach on the south shore of Nova Scotia on Thursday morning. - Ryan Taplin
A dead minke whale washed up at Queensland Beach on the south shore of Nova Scotia on Thursday morning. - Ryan Taplin
HUBBARDS, N.S. —

A dead male minke whale with a missing tail has washed ashore at Queensland Beach.

Tonya Wimmer, executive director of the Marine Animal Response Society, said they first received reports of the whale at the popular beach near Hubbards on Wednesday evening.

“Several people provided some photos and we have a team that is going to go and do some sampling and take some documentation,” Wimmer said late Thursday morning.

The whale’s cause of death and when it died have yet to be determined, she said. Minke whales are common in Nova Scotia waters.

Peter Richardson, owner of Peggy’s Cove Boat Tours, told The Chronicle Herald he spotted the whale’s carcass floating just off Peggys Cove at about 6 a.m. on Monday. He noted the whale’s tail was missing when he saw it.

“It’s been dead a few days, but we don’t know yet until we get on site to have a better look to try and figure,” Wimmer said.

As a warm weekend approaches, Wimmer advised people to keep their distance from the whale for safety reasons.

“Obviously these are very fascinating events to people, because it’s a different way to see them, and that’s wonderful, but we would highly recommend people keep their distance,” she said.

“Besides the smell of the animal, it can also make the rocks slippery and dangerous and they can carry diseases and what not.”

A Marine Animal Response Society team is to head to the beach Thursday and take samples. The society’s core team is on its way to New Brunswick to deal with a dead right whale.

An endangered right whale was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Tuesday. It’s the first dead whale to be found in Canadian waters in 2019.

“So we’re dividing and conquering this morning with various dead whales,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer said the disposal of the minke whale’s carcass is up to the beach’s owner. Queensland Beach is a provincial park.

The Department of Lands and Forestry will be hiring an excavator and truck to move the nearly seven-metre whale, said spokeswoman Lisa Jarrett.

“As weather and tides permit, staff will be moving it to a site on Crown land where it will be buried and decompose naturally,” Jarrett said.

The dead North Atlantic right whale spotted Tuesday drifting off Quebec’s Gaspé coast is known to researchers as Wolverine.

“The animal does have a history,” Wimmer said. “It’s been spotted in Canadian waters before. It is an animal that’s known to researchers throughout its range on the eastern seaboard in Canada and the U.S.”

Wolverine has also been seen in the Bay of Fundy.

The whale is being towed to northern New Brunswick. There, researchers can conduct a necropsy – a post-mortem examination – in hopes of determining the cause of death.

The U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spotted the whale Tuesday and reported it to Canadian officials. Searchers caught up with the nine-year-old male late Wednesday and are towing it to a beach on Miscou Island in New Brunswick so that a team of specialists can examine it.

Researchers identified Wolverine by scars on its tailstock. They resembled gashes from the blades on the hands of the fictional Marvel Comics and film character. The scars are thought to have been from contact with a ship’s propeller when the whale was much younger.

Researchers also know Wolverine to have survived at least three gear entanglements.

Wolverine is the first confirmed death of a North Atlantic right whale in the Gulf since 2017 when there was an unprecedented toll of 12 members of the critically endangered species.

With files from SaltWire

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