28th February 2020
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Washed up whales to be assessed

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Environmental health staff are to assess two dead whales prior to disposal after they washed up at Yell and West Burrafirth this week.

The department received a report of a dead cetacean the “size of a small cow” washed up in Cullivoe on Monday while a larger animal was reported washed up at West Burrafirth on Thursday.

Environmental health team leader Patti Dinsdale said that staff would inspect the carcasses as soon as weather permitted and decide how best to dispose of the whales.

She added that various options were open for disposal with burial on site the favoured option. If this is not possible the whales could be towed off and cut up, taken to landfill or buried elsewhere.

Although the disposal of dead whales is strictly the responsibility of landowners, the council generally steps in if they are deemed a health hazard or likely to affect households or public areas.

Any whale over 25ft long is deemed a “royal fish” and becomes the responsibility of Marine Scotland, though in practice the council would be contracted to handle the disposal.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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