Dead whale disposal plan needed for Nova Scotia, says councillor

Dead whale is the kind of smell you never forget.

Nobody wants to answer the phone when a whale corpse needs to be removed

Dwayne MacDonald says no one takes responsibility for dead whales, like this minke that once washed up in Antigonish County. (Courtesy: Jaye Ouellett)

Dead whale is the kind of stink you never forget.

Dwayne MacDonald has smelled it, and he doesn't want to inflict its lingering aromas on his fellow Cape Bretoners. 

"If you can't sleep at night for a week because the stench of death is wafting in your window, that affects your health." - Dwayne MacDonald , Inverness Councillor

"This is something that happens every year," he said. "It's not a major shock when a whale washes up in Inverness County."

He's the councillor for the area, and has heard about three dead whales in the last week. 

The problem comes when the carcasses decay on the shore, belching their pungent stench into the nostrils of passing people. 

"Every year, the same process starts where a resident calls around to different levels of government and says, 'How do we handle this?' And they pass the buck to the next person down the line."

As a member of the municipal government, he says he's embarrassed when he doesn't know how to help.

"If you can't sleep at night for a week because the stench of death is wafting in your window, that affects your health."

Working together

One man hired a boat this week to haul away a dead whale because the air was so heavy with foul smells, MacDonald said. "I know I couldn't afford to have a whale towed out."

Other Atlantic provinces have had their share of smelly dead whales on their shores. 

This week, a dead whale in Roseville, P.E.I. ended up becoming a tourist attraction. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was responsible for disposing the carcass. 

Last year, a team from the Royal Ontario Museum ended up taking two dead whales from Newfoundland's west coast to study their tissue samples and preserve the skeletons. 

MacDonald wants a variety of groups to sit down and create a dead-whale plan. Given that Nova Scotia is nearly an island, the plentiful coast lines mean the whales won't stop dying on our beaches, he said. 

"Department of Fisheries and Oceans will tell you if it's above the high water mark, it's not their problem. [Natural Resources] will tell you if it's a marine mammal, it's not their problem. Everybody says it's not their problem, but it is the problem of the people who deal with it," he said. 


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