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ANOTHER WHALE WASHES UP

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THE PROBLEM of what to do with one washed-up whale has been solved, as it has been cut up into pieces and its bones are to be preserved, but the future of a second beached whale in North Sligo is set to prove more problematic.

On Saturday last, the carcass of a young 40ft adult male fin whale which beached at Ardtermon, Raughley, two weeks ago was removed by heavy-lifting plant machinery. It was then laid on plastic sheeting on the pier at the nearby harbour before butchers from Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis got to work.

The butchers, with the aid of two HiMacs, a large industrial skip, a flat bed truck and tractors carried out their work within three hours. The flesh removed will most likely be rendered into fertilizer.

The bones, as they were removed from the carcass, were studied and labelled by two PHD students from University College Galway, who are currently studying the fin whale as part of their college course. Members of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group were on hand to oversee the operation.

A large hole dug has been in a nearby field on a bed of manure where the bones will be buried. The site will be covered over with more manure and left for approximately one year. During that time nature will take its course as worms, maggots and microbes strip the bones clean of any remaining flesh. The bones will then be preserved and treated with a protective varnish.

They will then be secured onto a prebuilt metal frame which will allow for the skeleton to be displayed and there has already been interest locally that the the bones

should be kept in Raughley.

Meanwhile, the Council is having to deal with a second, larger, 60ft fin male whale beached at Agharrow, near Grange at a place known locally as Staid Abbey which is a couple of miles away from Raughley.

A Council spokesperson said the whale was lying in a place to which access was difficult and disposal options were still being

considered. It is located on a smooth rock ledge which is sloped down towards the sea and was not a safe access point for the public, particulary as there are high seas and stormy conditions at present.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has confirmed that the whale at Raughley was the first validated stranding recorded of a fin whale in County Sligo and only the fifth record of this species in Irish northwest waters.