A stinky, dead whale has become a tourist attraction in a Canadian town

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: They're calling it a "ticking methane bomb." "They," are residents of the tiny Canadian fishing town of Trout River, Newfoundland and the bomb is a giant, dead blue whale lying in the harbor there. The 180 ton carcass washed up just below Trout River's boardwalk last Friday. It's believed to be one of 9 endangered blue whales that died in heavy ice off of Canada's Atlantic coast several weeks ago. Then it started drifting and filling up with methane gas. And, yes, this is grim, the bloated body can now explode at any time. That's a big concern for local residents like Doris Sheppard. She runs a bed and breakfast in Trout River.

Doris Sheppard: The first day that we saw this, my husband and I were on the highway on the way back home and we noticed this black thing out in the ice. That was Easter morning. The next morning the ice had brought that into our cove. Now the ice has melted, but it didn't take the whale with it. It left it grounded on the beach.

Werman: What kind of problems is it causing?

Sheppard: The stench from it, the danger of curious children. We're having some great weather right now and that's going to speed up the decaying process. Up until yesterday, I could not smell anything. But last night the smell was awful, sickening.

Werman: What do you want done to this dead animal?

Sheppard: We are a small town of a little over 600 people. We have a small tax base. We don't have the resources to deal with this, we don't have the experience to deal with it. There's suggestions coming in, to leave it there just to decay on the beach. If it was a fast process, probably we could deal with it, but this takes time. Right now we have local children being curious and down there wanting to touch it and they have been climbing on top of it and getting their picture taken. If it breaks open and they fall through, we're in a tight spot here.

Werman: That's a horrifying thought. What does it actually look like?

Sheppard: It's upside down, It's swollen. To me, it looked like a giant, giant rubber tire, like the belly of it. Now it's started to shrivel up like a flat tire. It was obviously a beautiful mammal and it's too bad that it had to die in the ice. We would prefer that we have a live one out there and that would be a tourist attraction but this is much harder to deal with and it is, being a small town. We're a small town with a big responsibility.

Werman: Is there any possibility of dragging it out to sea and letting it sink?

Sheppard: Our town has contacted the department of fishery and was told that we cannot do that because it may interfere with navigation. We are not allowed to touch it without permission and permits from the department of fishery.

Werman: Doris Sheppard, we wish you the best of luck. Doris Sheppard runs the Sheppard's B & B in Trout River in Newfoundland. Thanks very much for your time.

Sheppard: You're quite welcome. Have a good day.