Powerful stench of rotting whale wafting into Cape Breton community
A decomposing fin whale is producing a pungent smell in Port Hastings, N.S. after it washed ashore last week.
Post-tropical storm Arthur then blew the whale onto the beach, a few hundred metres from the Canso Causeway’s swing bridge.
The 14-metre fin whale is beached below the community’s busy visitor information bureau and local politicians say the awful stench is causing problems for residents and visitors.
“A cross between bad cheese, bad feet and death,” says Victoria County councillor Dwayne MacDonald of the smell.
“I can’t imagine living around it,” says visitor Brenda Howboldt. “It’s a shocking mess that it’s still there.”
Local politicians appealed to the provincial and federal governments to take responsibility for the whale, but neither expressed interest in moving the 14-metre carcass.
“It’s almost like they’re scared to say ‘it’s our problem,’ but I mean, it’s everybody’s problem,” says MacDonald. “We all work for the same group of people that are suffering here today, while we’re deciding whose responsibility it is.”
Due to the shape of the cove, the whale isn’t expected to move on its own.
The Department of Natural Resources doesn’t usually deal with marine wildlife, saying it is a federal responsibility.
However, it says this case is a unique situation, given the whale’s proximity to the public and the warm weather.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill said, while his department isn’t responsible for the whale, it would arrange for its removal from the beach.
“The heat that we’ve had has obviously increased the discomfort for residents and for people coming to and from our tourism bureau, and we’re worried that’s going to impact business going to Cape Breton, so we will be acting and we will be removing the whale from the site,” said Churchill.
Residents and local business owners were relieved to hear the news.
“Right up over the hill here we have a museum and one of their major fundraisers for the year is their baby barn that sells ice cream outside,” says MacDonald. “I can’t imagine stopping there, standing right here and smelling what I’m smelling right now. The last thing on my mind is stopping there to buy an ice cream on the way home.”
The cost to remove the whale carcass is estimated to be as much as $10,000. The Department of Natural Resources says work should begin within a day or two.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore