Monday 17 June 2019

Whale carcass left rotting on strand

The rotting whale carcass at Cummeen strand. Pic: Carl Brennan
The rotting whale carcass at Cummeen strand. Pic: Carl Brennan

Sorcha Crowley

A decision by Sligo County Council to leave "two tonnes of blubber" to rot at Cummeen Strand has been described as "unacceptable."

The Council confirmed to The Sligo Champion that it's too difficult to reach the whale and too expensive to remove it.

A spokesperson for the Council also said it would not be possible to bury the whale in situ as the location was not suitable for this.

"The location is quite isolated and access for machinery would be difficult. The cost of removing the whale and sending for rendering would be considerable and given the isolated location it is not considered that this is realistic," they said.

Veterinary Inspector Richard Allen however, told this newspaper he was "shocked" at their decision not to dispose of the carcass.

"They're going to leave it to rot. If somebody has a carcass on their land, such as a farmer, they have to get rid of it. I don't think leaving it is an option," he said.

"It's not acceptable to leave two tonnes of blubber to rot on Sligo bay. If that was on private property you'd be told to get rid of it or else.

Mr Allen said because of the way the tides come into Sligo bay, it was "like a lake" and all the bacteria from the decaying carcass would be "floating about the bay."

"I agree burying it is not a solution because that's not usually successful but it's not an option to leave that thing there. They can remove it and then look for the money back from the Department," he said.

Environmental lecturer at IT Sligo Dr Nicolas Touzet said a build-up of bacteria in the carcass could result in gases such as CO2 and methane accumulating, causing the whale's body to expand and bloat "and in some cases even to explode."

"The decaying bodies of whales carry bacteria and diseases that can be passed to other animals including humans, and hence could constitute a risk to public health, which would need to be evaluated by local authorities," he said, adding that "swimming, walking or seafood collection in the proximity of the whale's body should hence be avoided."

Two other whales which washed ashore at Lislary and Trawalua Strand near Cliffoney.

Sligo Champion