Emily Butler, town clerk in Trout River, Newfoundland, said the 28-yard blue whale is beached next to a community boardwalk and is emitting a powerful stench that is spreading through the town of 600 people.
She said she and others are concerned the methane gas caused by decomposition could cause the animal to burst: “We have a concern . . . because I’m not sure with the heat and gases that are trapped inside of this mammal if, at some point in time, it will explode. I’m told it could only explode if the carcass is punctured or cut. Safety is one issue that we’re concerned with, but whether it explodes or don’t, as our temperatures warm up, there’s going to be an awful smell as it decays.”
But Jack Lawson, a research scientist with Canada’s fisheries department, said the risk of such a blast is “very small”. “At some point, the skin of the animal will lose some of its integrity as all of the connective tissue starts to break down.
“Eventually, that gas will seep out . . . It will just deflate like an old balloon.”
Mr Lawson said he is aware of YouTube videos showing a bloated, beached sperm whale in the Faroe Islands that explodes as a scientist uses a large knife to cut open its underside.