Whale innards reveal little about dead minke in Lewisporte

Researchers in Lewisporte carried out a necropsy on a minke whale that died on the community's shoreline last weekend.
Researchers study a whale carcass in Lewisporte. 3:34

Researchers in Lewisporte carried out a necropsy on a minke whale that died on the community's shoreline last weekend.

The town plans to put the bones of the whale on display, once the carcass has been cleaned from the bones.

Town workers, whale researchers and a veterinarian opened up the belly of the two-and-a-half tonne female to try and figure out how, and why, the animal died.

Veterinarian Adele Veinot says it's hard to tell much about the whale's health and organs due to the level of decomposition. (CBC)

Veterinarian Adele Veinot said the whale's stomach was completely empty, so the whale wasn't eating.

The whale also had a thinner layer of blubber than expected, which could indicate larger health problems, but Veinot said it is difficult to tell much more from the decomposed innards.

"Basically, when the body passes on, chemicals will start breaking down inside naturally and it will discolour the organs, and also have different chemical build-up," she said.

"So sampling long-term after they're deceased, it's difficult to identify what might have happened."

The smell from the decomposing carcass packs a punch, but whale researchers said it's certainly not the worst case they've dealt with.

"This smell is not bad — I've smelled a lot worse," said Wayne Ledwell.

"This animal is fairly fresh, surprisingly, because the weather is cold, and it had been sitting in the water for a couple of days."

Once the gruesome work of removing the minke's skeleton is completed, the bones will be placed in a wire cage and lowered into Lewisporte's harbour for sea lice, fish, and other creatures to pick them clean.


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