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Beached whale ordered shot after overheating near Digby

Canadian Press
July 31/06

    BIG JOGGINS, N.S. - A whale that was beached along a Nova Scotia shore was shot by RCMP officers on Sunday, after Fisheries Department officials determined it had no hope of surviving.
   The young minke whale was beached In Big Joggins, located near Digby on the Annapolis Basin.
   The whale was badly hurt when Fisheries officers found it, said department spoke sman Cue Barratt. "It was belly up to th e tide went out, and its whole layer of skin was gone and it was quite badly blis tered," said Barratt. "The prognosis for the animal was very dim, and the animal was ordered destroyed."
   Barratt said when destroying such a large animal, shooting it is not unusual. Fisheries Department experts also consulted Tonya Wimmer, a Halifaxarea marine biologist who runs the Marine Animal Response Society.
   "It was extremely sunburnt, and it's very clear this animal wouldn't have made it," said Wimmer.
   "They overheat when they're out of water, and that's one of the main things that destroys an animal this time of year."
   Wimmer said it's difficult to de stroy animals as large as whales. Euthanasia drugs can take too long and pose a danger to other animals who eat the carcass.
   "With an animal this size, (shooting it) is pretty much the only way you can do it other than letting nature take its course, which for this animal would be too painful," she said.
   Wimmer said her group hopes to collect samples and examine the carcass before it is disposed of.
   The Marine Animal Response Society tracks stranded marine animals, investigates why they become stranded or beached, and offers advice on how to deal with them.

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