HARBOURVIEW, N.S. – A full post-mortem examination will not be performed on a humpback whale that washed ashore on the Bay of Fundy near Harbourville, N.S, the Fisheries Department said Wednesday.
The Marine Animal Response Society said it received a report on Sunday that the carcass had washed up on a rocky beach.
Andrew Reid, the society’s response co-ordinator, said the 13.7-metre whale is likely a young adult male and died several days prior, but that there were no signs of recent entanglements or gashes from ship strikes.
“It did appear quite thin, so it may have been suffering from a long-term sickness or injury that would have been preventing it from feeding properly,” said Reid in an interview. “It probably wasn’t an acute death.”
DFO confirmed in an email statement that it has decided not to perform a necropsy, or animal auropsy.
“The location of the carcass and the tides provide logistical challenges that would make the necropsy very difficult to perform successfully,” wrote spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson.
Reid said officials with the society have documented the whale’s external anatomy. He said necropsies are logistically and financially demanding, and the society does not have the resources to conduct one on its own.
“From our point of view, it does need to be shared between the non-government side, the academic side and government,” said Reid. “That would be required to do a necropsy on this animal… and it doesn’t appear that will be done.”
Reid said the humpback population is relatively healthy, but there has been an elevated number of humpback whale deaths along the U.S. eastern seaboard in recent years.
“We now have a dead humpback, so it seems important to find out why humpbacks might be dying in our waters as well,” he said.
The Marine Animal Response Society also said local residents have been raising concerns about people climbing and jumping on the whale.
“We would ask that people, like with all animals, treat them with respect when they’re alive but also when they’re dead,” said Reid, adding that the whale is also slippery and climbing on it could be dangerous.