Dozens of whale carcasses removed from island beach
DOZENS of whale carcasses were removed from an island beach yesterday and transported for safe disposal in a dawn operation of military-style precision.
Up to 33 pilot whales had lain strewn on the mainland-facing beach of the tiny Rutland Island off Donegal's north-west coast since the mass stranding on November 6.
Since then the bodies of up to six whales were washed out to sea again.
Initial plans to bury the remaining carcasses on location were abandoned by Donegal County Council following concerns by local people and holiday home-owners that they might resurface or create an odour in the area, which is designated a Special Area of Conservation.
The local authority, in consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, opted to dispose of the animals at College Proteins animal rendering plant in Nobber, Co Meath.
The operation began just before daybreak, when two lorries with special sealed containers, a track machine and a dumper were transported by the Arranmore Fast Ferry from Burtonport to Rutland Island.
By 8.30am the first container was filled and removed to the mainland and by 9.30am the operation was completed and the carcasses were on their way to Co Meath.
"It was very well-organised and there were no hitches," said Fast Ferry operator Seamus Boyle.
Mr Boyle, a serving soldier, also praised Donegal County Council for the success of the mission.
"I was glad to be of help. It was a terrible tragedy and the main concern that everyone had was that the environment would be protected," he said.
Fat from the whales will be rendered for use as an energy source, while the whale meat and bone meal will be used in the manufacture of green fuel.
The entire disposal operation is expected to cost the local authority in excess of €10,000.