A Minke whale, washed ashore in north Clare 13 days ago, will be allowed to decompose naturally rather than being removed by the authorities.
The mature whale was roughly six metres long and was estimated to weigh in excess of six tonnes.
The female mammal came in with the tide on August 12, at an area known as Hayes Hole between Doolin and Liscannor. Located at a difficult-to-reach spot, it is close to a popular bathing area at Clahane. The county council said it would be impossible to remove an animal of that size from an inaccessible location.
Experts from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) have examined the whale and advised that the carcass did not currently pose a risk to public health.
The council said it intends to leave the carcass untouched and ‘let nature take its course’ by allowing the massive carcass to be removed through decomposition and tidal erosion.
“The whale is inaccessible and therefore the council is unable to remove it using the type of heavy machinery required, like a tracked excavator. It is not practicable to dispose of the animal in-situ either as the window of opportunity is very limited as high tide covers the animal,” said a council spokesperson.
“The council has not received any calls to either the Ennistymon or Kilrush office regarding the whale and does not believe it is causing any nuisance.”
Minke whales can live for up to 50 years but the dead female was thought to be much younger than that.
According to Dr Simon Berrow of the IWDG, the whale appears well constituted with no apparent cause of death. The IWDG has been campaigning for autopsies to be carried out on a selection of whales which came ashore for the past decade.
“We don’t carry out postmortems on whale at the moment even though it is something that we at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group have been calling for for a number of years now. We wouldn’t need to perform one on every beached whale, just on a small sample.
“This would give us some indication of why these animals are dying and if they are being affected by any unnatural factors,” said Dr Berrow. “If it’s not on a public beach or isn’t a danger to public health, then there is no harm in letting the carcass decompose as it normally would.
“A lot of local authorities spend a lot of money removing these massive carcasses and shipping them away to have them incinerated. If they are not a nuisance or a public health risk, then incinerating them is just a waste of money.”
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