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Peter Walsh/TeIegraph-Journal The carcass of a 16.5 metre finback whale was discovered washed up on West Beach, which is about 5.5 kilometres east of Cape Spencer on the East Side of Saint John, and accessible only by an hour's trip on an all-terrain vehicle. Gerald Porter, left, and Billy Fournier of Saint John are just two of the locals who have made the trek to see the whale

Finback Carcass found rotting on West Beach

SANDRA DAVIS
Telegraph-Journal
MAY 05/05

    The carcass of a 16.5-metre-long '' finback whale discovered washed up on a secluded beach could be the same animal that was impaled on the bow of a cruise ship last September and towed out to sea by the Coast Guard.
   The finback was first discovered at West Beach last December.
   West Beach is about 5.5 kilometres east of Cape Spencer on the city's East Side, and accessible only by an hour's trip on an all-terrain vehicle.
   The skin of the animal is pretty much gone, with only the blubber remaining, said Laurie Murison, a researcher with the Grand Marian Whale and Seabird Research Station, '; as she viewed photographs of the carcass.
   "There's a little bit of connective tissue and red underneath the skin," she said.
   The animal measures 3.6 metres across and probably weighed at least 50 tonnes, she said.
   Since the animal was found, many locals have been trekking in to see it, including Gerald Porter of Loch Lomond and some friends.
   Until recently, the whale was still `' partially frozen, said Mr. Porter.
   By Wednesday, the thawed and decomposed carcass was starting to create a stench similar to rotting fish downwind. The fleshy body is mostly intact except for a couple of pieces of baleen - the part of mouth that filters food that lay nearby.
   Marks on the jawbones seem to indicate someone has tried to saw pieces off.
   What will happen to the carcass is unclear, but Ms. Murison said it would be a shame if it were vandalized.
   She is certain New Brunswick Museum curator of zoology Don McAlpine will be interested in adding it to his collection. Mr. McAlpine is away and unavailable for comment.
   "I'm sure that Don would want to `' monitor this and collect bones as they become available," she said.
   The Environment Department, the Department of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans will decide whether the animal poses a public health or safety threat, said an environment department spokesman.
   Fin whales are a common whale in the Bay of Fundy but are listed as a species of concern, which means that their population is not as great as it was pre-whaling. They live year round in the Bay of Fundy.

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