HALIFAX: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating after a deceased fin whale washed ashore in Richmond County.

First year NSCC Strait Area Campus natural resources environmental technology student Celine Martell heard about the whale from a fellow L’Ardoise resident, so on March 19, she headed out to the site near St. Esprit.

“It wasn’t part of my course but I study stuff like this so I decided to take a drive down.

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“I couldn’t believe the size of it,” Martell recalled upon seeing the mammal. “[It was] so cool and sad at the same time how such a harmless creature just washed up along the beach.”

Martell said fin whales are the second largest whale species in the world.

“In my course, we student different species and it was really cool to be able to see the fin whale… in person even though it was dead,” she noted.

Debbie Buott-Matheson, communications advisor with the Maritimes Region for Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed that it was a 63-foot long female fin whale.

After being notified of the whale on March 19 by the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS), she explained via e-mail the cause of death “has not yet been confirmed.” DFO staff collected measurements, samples of skin, tissue and blubber, as well as baleen, Buott Matheson explained, noting these samples, along with photos, will be sent to Quebec, the lead region on scientific analysis.

In the absence of a necropsy on the whale by veterinary pathologists, MARS response coordinator Andrew Reid said the group will await the results from the information collected by the DFO to determine how it died.