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Memorial University to receive carcass of second blue whale in Newfoundland

A sperm whale carcass sits on shore in Cape St. George, N.L., in this recent handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Michael Fenwick

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A sperm whale carcass sits on shore in Cape St. George, N.L., in this recent handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Michael Fenwick

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A tentative agreement has been reached that would see the remains of a blue whale carcass that washed ashore on Newfoundland's west coast displayed at Memorial University, the school said Tuesday.

The university in St. John's, N.L., said the Royal Ontario Museum — which began the process of preserving another blue whale carcass near Woody Point, N.L., earlier this month — will dismantle and clean the whale as part of the agreement.

Mark Abrahams, the dean of science at Memorial University, said it is a rare teaching, learning and research opportunity for the province.

"One hates to see an endangered animal die, but if it does, you want to take the most of that opportunity," said Abrahams in a phone interview.

"I think it's a tremendous learning experience for students at Memorial University and I think it's a tremendous educational experience for all the people of the province."

Abrahams said the details of recovering the mammal that's been rotting in Rocky Harbour for weeks have yet to be ironed out, including when and how it will make the 700-kilometre journey across the province to St. John's.

"We need to make sure the whale is removed in a timely fashion from Rocky Harbour, so we need to sort out those details," said Abrahams, adding that it could be several years until the whale is on display, and they've yet to determine where it would be located on campus.

"There's a few question marks."

The university said the cost of the project is also unclear.

The Royal Ontario Museum had originally set out to recover both whale carcasses, but later concluded it couldn't afford to dismantle and transport the second one.

It's believed the two animals were among nine blue whales that were crushed or drowned in unusually thick pack ice earlier this spring.

The total population of the Northwest Atlantic blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, was estimated at just 250 before the deaths off Newfoundland.

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