A fisheries scientist is hoping to get DNA samples from the carcass of blue whales stuck in the ice on Newfoundland's west coast to get a full picture of the impact on the animals.
The whales were spotted off Rocky Harbour in Bonne Bay this weekend. This is the second sighting this year of dead blue whales caught in ice on the west coast.
Jack Lawson, a scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said getting skin samples from the whales will help determine what kind of impact there is on the blue whale population.
According to Lawson, finding out if these whales are the same ones spotted off St. George's Bay 125 kilometres to the south earlier in the year would narrow down the impact.
"It's hard to tell with these animals. I've got to look at aerial photographs we have, to see if there's any particular markings on them," he said.
"They appear to be about the same level of decomposition as the ones that we saw in early April, and they are about the same size."
Lawson said if DFO can determine if the whale carcasses are the same ones, it will minimize the impact to the vulnerable population.
He added that testing will help determine if the whales mingled with a larger population, which would be less cause for concern.
"If we think there's only 250 blue whales here and they're not mingling with any other group, and they're getting killed off in numbers like these, that has big repercussions," said Lawson.
"The number of whales on the other side of the Atlantic numbers in the thousands, and if there's some mingling going on, you got maybe a little less concern."
The recent blue whale deaths in the area is the biggest natural mass-kill ever recorded in these waters.