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Residents of two communities in western Newfoundland should know more sometime today about how and when the carcasses of two blue whales will be removed from their respective beaches, and sent to a museum.
On Wednesday, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was working on an agreement with a Canadian museum to take ownership of the remains of the beached whales from Rocky Harbour and Trout River. A sperm whale carcass also washed ashore in the Cape St. George area. .
The name of the museum wasn't released.
Blue whales are the largest animals in the world, and the affected towns have been begging for help to remove them before the bodies explode.
Residents are also concerned with the smell from the rotting carcasses. The giant mammals perished after getting caught in severe ice off the island's coast this winter.
The dead blue whale in Trout River has been expanding since it washed ashore several weeks ago.
The carcass is longer than two school buses.
Initially, town residents feared gases building inside the carcass would cause the whale to explode.
Jenny Parsons, who operates the Seaside Restaurant in Trout River, said now the town might not be so happy to see the whale leave.
"I think now people are beginning to realize that how often does a blue whale wash up on your beach? It's pretty awesome to have it there," said Parsons.
"Well, I'm very pleased they're stepping up and doing something about it. And I'm not surprised at all that museums would want this whale."
She said wherever the remains end up, it is unlikely it will be in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parsons said she would like to see a blue whale pavilion in western Newfoundland.
The other blue whale carcass has been grounded in Rocky Harbour, located in Gros Morne National Park.
people watching Trout River blue whale carcass
People have been visiting Trout River to catch a sight of the blue whale carcass that washed ashore last month. (CBC)
Mayor Walter Nicolle said that for the first week or so, the whale was a real tourist attraction.
"But right now the whale is starting to smell a bit, so the local people are getting concerned about it," he told CBC News.
At first, Nicolle was told the 20-metre whale was the town's problem. So town officials proceeded to secure a permit to remove the carcass, though Nicolle admitted they are not sure just how to do that.
"I'm a little bit surprised they're going to take it away already."
DFO expects to release more information on Thursday about what will be a major operation.
The loss of nine blue whales has attracted international and national scientific interest. Sample tissue of one whale has been taken to gather scientific data.
In 2010, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa unveiled a blue whale skeleton.