A dead blue whale that is slowly rotting on the beach of the western Newfoundland community of Trout River has the community scrambling to find a way to get rid of it before it explodes.
The whale's 25-metre carcass washed into Trout River just over a week ago, and has since been pushed up against the beach.
"The whale is blowing up. It looks as if it's a big balloon, from a distance," said Emily Butler, Trout River's town clerk, who has been trying to find a government agency that can help dispose of the whale.
Tucked inside a corner of Gros Morne National Park, Trout River depends in large part during the summer on tourism.
Butler said the whale — likely one of a group of blue whales that died several weeks ago in heavy ice off Newfoundland's west coast — is giving off an odour that's already hard to ignore.
Butler is worried about what could happen if the carcass remains grounded near the town's historic wooden boardwalk. "It's only a matter of time — as the weather warms up, it's only going to worse," she said.
'Difficult to keep people away'
Even now, the town is drawing a different kind of visitor: People from the region who drive to take in the unusual sight of a blue whale right on the shoreline.
"It's very difficult to keep people away, simply because it's not too often that you see a blue whale," she said.
Butler, who has been told that the town is responsible for dealing with the carcass because it is now on its beach, said it cannot cope alone with the unusual problem.
"We really don't have any resources and we really don't have the expertise," she said.
Butler said the clock is ticking on finding a solution, as the swollen whale is getting bigger.
"There is a possibility as well, with all these gases inside the whale, that it may possibly explode," she said. "That's a major concern for us, as well."
Meanwhile, another whale carcass has washed ashore in Rocky Harbour, the largest town in Gros Morne National Park.