Officials investigating humpback whale carcass in Saint John Harbour

Officials investigating humpback whale carcass in Saint John Harbour
Submitted/Rosemary Bautista

Officials are investigating a humpback whale carcass seen floating in the Saint John Harbour on Tuesday between Manawagonish Island and Coleson Cove.  Michael Caines was out sailing with friends on an overnight cruise from Saint John to Grand Manan when his son noticed something in the harbour.  "From a distance it looked like a really big rock but it was too far out to be anything that would be recognized as a rock on the chart or anything," he said.  When they got up close, Caines said, it appeared to be a humpback whale measuring about 10 metres in length.

"The belly was sticking up the furthest, it was lying on its back and, yeah, it looked like a big — very big — dead whale," he said.  

Andrew Reid from the Marine Animal Response Society, or MARS, said the group is aware of the reports of a whale carcass in Saint John and believes it is a whale that has been seen floating in the Bay of Fundy for a couple of days.    "From the photographs provided, we've been able to confirm that this is the same humpback whale carcass that was originally sighted off of the Digby area on Aug. 7," he said. 

Reid said MARS isn't sure how the whale died. A cause of death can only be confirmed by doing a full necropsy, which is not likely to happen with this whale. 

"It's in quite an advanced state of decomposition and it's also not a species at risk," he said. "So we are working in a world of limited resources. So it seems unlikely that this animal will be towed ashore for necropsy." Whale carcasses "provide food for animals in the area," he said.

"The ... humpback had numerous shark bites on it, but this is an important food source, so letting nature take its natural course isn't a bad option sometimes."