Towns along Canada’s Newfoundland coast have had to deal with more than their share of whale carcasses lately—including a blue whale that, as it bloated to twice its living size, sparked fears of a gruesome explosion (though it was eventually given to a museum).
Give Cape St. George a little credit, then, for thinking outside the box when it came to the disposal of a dead sperm whale that recently washed ashore: they tried to auction the thing on eBay, and had received bids upwards of $2,000 CAD before the listing abruptly vanished.
Here’s what it said:
This 40 foot sperm whale rolled up on the beach last week. The actual seller is the town of Cape St. George which is responsible for disposing of it before it starts to decay. Once the fat and flesh is removed you have a spectacular 40 foot skeleton of the largest toothed whale in the world, great for museums and other attractions. To prevent it rotting in the town it can be towed to isolated beaches on the Port au Port Peninsula to allow the seagulls and other birds to remove the flesh.
We called a phone number listed in the ad and were amazed when Peter Fenwick, the mayor of Cape St. George himself, picked up. Hey, it’s a small place, with a population of 900 or so. Of course the mayor answers random inquires from the Internet.
“We got an email from eBay; apparently we were in violation of their policy on selling marine mammals,” he said with a chuckle, mentioning that such a sale could’ve also run afoul of federal wildlife protection law. “But we had about 70 people interested, so now we’re offering a free whale. Just get in touch and tell us how you plan to get rid of it, before it becomes a nuisance.”
Ladies and gentlemen, start your tugboats.