Stranded Whale Goes up in Smoke in Heritage Week

17th Sep 2001 A sixty foot whale washed ashore at Fahey Bay near Clifden in early September was identified as a Fin whale by a local marine biologist. Galway County Council six days later decided to burn the whale following complaints from people about the smell. The whale was dead when stranded and appeared to have died two or three weeks ago at sea. Duchas wildlife ranger, Mr.Ger O'Donnell measured the whale and took a tissue sample for scientists in UCC, Cork. Standing eight foot tall and almost sixty foot in length the whale attracted a constant stream of curious visitors, from children to the elderly. 1500 people are estimated to have seen the whale over a two day period.

Given the great public interest, instead of burning public money literally up in smoke, its surprising Galway Tourism, Duchas or the National Museum missed the opportunity to recover the whale for display at a later date. The whale could have been towed to a nearby sandy beach, buried and the sixty foot whale skeleton recovered in a year or so and displayed in Connemara National Park or the local Oceanworld to increase the public awareness of Irelands marine heritage of whales and dolphins. Three Council workers will spend four days burning the whale with diesel on the seashore and then remove whats left at a cost of approx. 1000 pounds.

Perhaps in future local authorities and Duchas could consider spending the taxpayers money in way which could promote non polluting disposal methods (burning tyres on the whale with diesel!) and create an educational asset about Irelands marine heritage.