Rye, NH – The Rye police chief has taken responsibility for local and state officials’ failed effort to move the body of a dead juvenile minke whale from a popular beach (video below).
A local reporter captured the moment they tried to put the corpse of the baby whale into a dumpster that was far too small to transport it on video, and posted it to Twitter.
“Yikes. The dead minke whale found on Jenness Beach didn’t fit in the dumpster,” Jason Schreiber of the New Hampshire Union leader wrote.
Officials explained the mistake was made with the very best of intentions.
“Our goal was removing the biohazard right away, Rye Police Chief Kevin Walsh told KXAS. “We said ‘baby whale,’ so everyone thought it was a small whale.”
But the deceased whale was approximately 16 feet long, and weighed around 4,000 pounds.
“We should have measured the length of the animal so it was clear what size container we would need,” Chief Walsh said.
The debacle began at approximately 6 a.m. on Monday, when a citizen at Jenness Beach found the dead whale washed up on the shore, the Foster’s Daily Democrat reported.
Experts believe it likely died after becoming tangled in fishing lines.
Chief Walsh contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Seacoast Science Center, then helped to coordinate a plan to remove the two-ton animal for necropsy.
Video footage showed a loader as the operator attempted to maneuver the dead whale into the industrial-sized dumpster.
According to Chief Walsh, the plan was to drop the animal into the container diagonally, so the bulk of the body would fall inside, leaving the tail hanging out, KXAS reported.
“And then we had a way we were going to cover it up,” the chief explained.
But when the loader operator tipped the fork forward to lower the whale into the unit, the gelatinous body hit the dumpster’s edge, knocking it off-balance, the video showed.
Instead of falling into the container, the dead whale flopped onto the parking lot concrete.
“That was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened and I take full responsibility for that,” Chief Walsh told KXAS.
The dead whale remained in the parking lot until Tuesday, when a larger container was hauled in. A necropsy was scheduled for Wednesday.
You can watch the failed removal attempt in the video below: