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Whale washes ashore in Richmond County

Ajhen Deschamps, 7, of St. Peter’s, and his sister Arielle, 2, stand next to a whale carcass that washed ashore on a beach near St. Esprit, Richmond County.
Ajhen Deschamps, 7, of St. Peter’s, and his sister Arielle, 2, stand next to a whale carcass that washed ashore on a beach near St. Esprit, Richmond County. - Cape Breton Post

'This is a bit bigger than a mackerel, eh?’

ST. ESPRIT, N.S. — When Ajhen Deschamps finished inspecting a large whale carcass on a beach near St. Esprit, Richmond County, the seven-year-old compared it to something from one of his favourite animated films.

“It’s from ‘Finding Dory,’” the young St. Peter’s resident said Tuesday while standing next to the remains of the mammal with his sister Arielle, 2.

“It’s so cool. The lines on it are so nice.”

Alex MacLeod of L'Ardoise said his dog Bear spotted the carcass, which is approximately 12 metres long, while they were walking along the beach.

“It’s not the mackerel that he’s used to,” joked MacLeod, 78. “He goes fishing with me and he’s used to mackerel — this is a bit bigger than a mackerel, eh?”

MacLeod said it’s possible the animal starved to death or became disoriented in shallow waters.

“I think that it went in there with the storm or chasing prey and got hooked because there’s St. Esprit Island out there and then there’s shallows on both sides of the island coming back to the land, so I guess it couldn’t find its way back out and starved,” he said. “That’s what it looked like to me — it’s not damaged or anything, there’s no cuts on it.”

The species of the whale wasn’t entirely clear Tuesday. Marine biologist Adam Mugridge said in photographs sent to him and a group of biologists, it appeared to be a humpback. However, when he viewed pictures sent by the Cape Breton Post, he said it could be also be a minke, based on its shorter pectoral fins and pointy snout.

Mugridge, who is director of science for Louisbourg Seafoods, said he didn’t want to speculate about the cause of death, noting that would require a necropsy by scientists from the Marine Animal Response Society.

However, he said not unusual for whale carcasses to wash ashore, particularly after a series of storms like the area recently experienced.

“It does happen from time to time, and in particular where we’ve had the storms, the nor’easters, recently, it would potentially drive things toward the land with more force than usual,” said Mugridge, who is director of science for Louisbourg Seafoods.

This is the second whale that washed up along Nova Scotia shores this weekend. A humpback whale was found Sunday on Nova Scotia's Fundy Shore near Ogilvie, N.S.

Meanwhile, Deschamps’ mother, Sarah Deschamps, said she was pleased she chanced the drive down Ferguson Road, a muddy, rut-filled lane leading to the water, so her children could see the creature up close.

“It’s just an experience,” she said. “It’s incredible.”

news@cbpost.com

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