Port Hastings whale carcass towed out to sea

Greg McNeil
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

TC MEDIA

For once the smell of decaying whale was welcomed by Dwayne MacDonald.

That came early Thursday morning when the Inverness County councillor saw the carcass of a 50-foot female fin whale being towed out to sea, a week after it made its way to the shores of Port Hastings.

"I noticed it as I was going down the harbour and it was way over on the mainland end in the shipping route a mile from me," said MacDonald, who represents the Port Hastings area.

"The reason I noticed it was because I was thinking 'I'm halfway between Hawkesbury and Hastings and I could smell it.' I thought 'No way.' Then I looked out and saw them towing it down the harbour. The smell was really awful."

The whale was first noticed on shore the evening of July 3 when it came to rest below the busy Port Hastings visitor information centre.

Its stench was evident to visitors and locals alike far from that site.

Responsibility for removal had become a touchy issue between levels of government as that stench grew stronger with each passing day.

Zach Churchill, the minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, said his department took charge because the stench continued to get worse.

"This is a very unique situation because of the public location of the carcass and the impact that the smell was having on travellers to and from Cape Breton Island and on visitors to the tourism information centre," said Churchill.

"Because of that impact we decided to move forward as quickly as we could."

Churchill said he became aware of the situation early Wednesday when MLAs Michel Samson and Geoff MacLellan told him about the impact it was having on travellers. He made the decision to act that afternoon.

The removal operation began at 7 a.m. Thursday under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources and the whale was towed by tug to a remote Crown island for burial.

Churchill did not disclose the island's location, but said the whale will be far away from anybody who would be offended by its smell.

The cost of the removal is still being tallied, but he didn't expect it to be "too severe."

Though the Department of Natural Resources considers marine mammals the responsibility of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Churchill is unsure if the province will ask the federal government to take care of the final bill.

"I'll be getting the numbers back on the cost in the next couple of days and we'll be able to make a decision at that point, but really we had to make the decision to do this, so I don't see us going anywhere else at this point."

In light of the disagreement over responsibility for removing the whale, MacDonald hopes representatives from all government agencies can develop a plan to deal with future situations.

"There's a major difference around a remote stretch of shoreline up in the Highlands somewhere and the shore below the tourism bureau," he said.

"You can understand that there will be different degrees of reaction, but there has to be reaction that doesn't take a week."

If there's a plan in place, MacDonald said everybody would know what they are supposed to do, instead of saying the other is responsible.

Churchill said he is not opposed to talking about such a plan.

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Port Hastings, Inverness County, Hawkesbury Cape Breton Island Crown island

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments