Schull may have lost chance to benefit from 9m whale carcass

March 21st, 2021 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Pádraig Whooley examining the humpback whale washed ashore at Colla West, near Schull. (Photo by Carlos Benlayo)

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MEMBERS of the public have been warned to stay away from a cliff at Colla West in Schull, near where a juvenile male humpback whale was found recently.

Pádraig Whooley, sightings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, told The Southern Star, that the whale’s final resting place is a rocky stretch of coastline at the bottom of a steep and dangerous bank, 2km west of Schull.

Padraig, who examined the whale in recent days, said that he understood the excitement locally after the 9-metres-long whale  was first sighted by a local man, John James O’Driscoll.

However, plans to retrieve the  whale, remove its skin tissue and blubber, and then bury it for a year or two, may have to be abandoned due to the changed weather conditions this week.

It had been hoped to clean it and prepare it for public display, similar to the fate of the famous Kilbrittain fin whale of 2010.

Normally, Pádraig said the local authority would remove the carcass and bring it to an industrial incinerator. But that would come ‘at great expense to the taxpayer’.

‘Although the plan was tentative, if successful, it would be a wonderful opportunity because the only other humpback whale on display is in the Natural History Museum, and that dates back to 1893.

‘Such is the rarity of a humpback whale stranding in Ireland, this is only the ninth record of this species stranding here since 1893.

‘It would be of massive benefit from a tourism point of view and it is certainly a project the at the IWDG would be keen to support,’ Mr Whooley added.

Meanwhile, numerous dead common dolphins have been washing up on beaches in West Cork, and at various other locations around the coast of Ireland.

According to Pádraig: ‘It is highly likely that this is as a result of fisheries interaction or by-catch.

‘The reason the dead dolphins are being washed ashore is probably as a result of winter storms.’

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