A dead whale that had spent several days decomposing on the Lewisporte shoreline has been removed.

Residents say the minke whale beached itself several metres from shore some time last weekend.

Many had expressed concern about the smell as the carcass began to rot.

But rather than just find a way to get rid of the whale, the town will make something more of the sad situation.

"The big thing was deciding what we were gonna do with it," said Lewisporte Mayor Brian Sceviour.

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Lewisporte Mayor Brian Sceviour says the skeleton of a whale that died on the town's shoreline will be displayed in the local museum. (CBC)

"And once we decided we'd like to get the skeleton, to put in our museum, then the thing was how would we do that?"

With that, a local company volunteered its expertise, bringing in an excavator to move the massive mammal on Wednesday.

Slowly but surely, the machine gently pulled the carcass from the water onto shore, with the rope snapping twice under its weight.

Meanwhile, dozens of people gathered to watch the delicate process.

"Seems like they're doing a pretty good job of doing it," said Mike Foss. "They never damaged the whale bringing it up. But it's a sin that it died."

Ferdie Samantilla said watching the process was a first for her.

"You think it's just small, but when you look at it, it's very huge. And the smell is not so good."

Free from the ocean, the whale was hoisted onto a waiting flatbed truck, giving even the workers pause for thought.

"You can see how precious nature is when you see something like that pass away," said James Downton. "You wonder what caused it. Was it done by mankind? We don't know."

The town hopes to solve that mystery when researchers arrive from St John's on Thursday to perform an autopsy

Then there's the mammoth task of cleaning the skeleton, which the town hopes to display in the local museum next year.