Group scrambles to bring 30-tonne dead humpback whale to Halifax shore

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An estimated 30-tonne male humpback whale is floating near Halifax harbour.  (Marine Animal Response Society - image credit)
An estimated 30-tonne male humpback whale is floating near Halifax harbour. (Marine Animal Response Society - image credit)

The Marine Animal Response Society is struggling to find ways to bring a 30-tonne humpback whale to shore in Halifax for a necropsy to learn how the animal died.

The group learned of the floating whale on Thursday evening, which was last seen near Lawlor Island in Eastern Passage, N.S.

However, recovery efforts are being hampered by the whale's size and the makeup of Halifax harbour, said Tonya Wimmer, the executive director of MARS.

She said it is difficult to bring heavy equipment to the harbour that's large enough to pick up the over eight-metre long whale, which is neither a full-grown adult or a baby.

"Usually in other places, the animal either comes ashore, or we're able to bring it ashore to like a local beach or maybe a more isolated area where we can still get some heavy equipment in there because they're big," said Wimmer.

Marine Animal Response Society
Marine Animal Response Society

On Friday, MARS, with the help of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, tried to get the whale to shore.

"The tricky thing on Friday was to figure out where could we even take it, that we could also have access with equipment," said Wimmer.

She said conducting necropsies are critical because they help people understand when human activities are playing a role in the harm or death of animals.

Marine Animal Response Society
Marine Animal Response Society

She said ocean animals have been entangled in gear or struck by vessels in the past. Some have also been very thin, indicating they're not getting enough to eat.

"For these animals, anything beyond a natural cause of death is concerning because usually, that points to some of the things we might be doing in the ocean. And this isn't, you know, just a humpback whale isolated type of thing," said Wimmer.

The organization is asking the public to report any sightings of the whale to their hotline at 1-866-567-6277.

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