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Islanders hope tide will remove body of huge whale from Donegal beach

Arranmore islanders hope the tide will carry the huge Fin whale off the shore. Picture by Arranmore Blue Ferry
Seamus McKinney

DONEGAL County Council is facing an unusual dilemma after a huge fin whale washed up on a beach on Arranmore Island.

The council may have to find a way of disposing of the 20-metre-long whale’s body if the tide fails to carry it back out to sea.

The mammal was first spotted floating in the water last week by the Arranmore lifeboat crew after they were alerted by an islander who saw seabirds flocking around something white in the water. It is believed the whale has been dead for a number of weeks.

The animal's body was washed up on a shingle cove on the eastern side of Arranmore overnight on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the council said the authority was assessing the situation. While whales washed up on the Irish coast are often buried deep on the shore, the fact that the Arranmore whale was washed up on a stony shore presented particular problems.

Arranmore Lifeboat spokeswoman Nora Flanagan said the whale’s body was already decomposing and the smell could cause a problem if the wind blew in a particular direction.

“If there was a high tide in the right direction and with the right wind it could be taken back out to sea and dropped to the bottom of the ocean where it could feed a huge biodiversity of other sea creatures,” she said.

Ms Flanagan also warned members of the public against approaching the whale’s body.

“They don’t know what it died from. It could contain maybe bacteria which might be harmful to humans or whatever so it’s a good idea not to touch the whale; it might be contaminated,” she said.

The 20-metre-long whale was found on a shingle beach on Arranmore's eastern side. Picture by Arranmore Blue Ferry

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