Northern Ireland

County Donegal's Operation blubber hailed as a success

Scientists examine the remains of the whales on Rutland Island
Image caption Scientists examine the remains of the whales on Rutland Island

The operation to remove 33 rotting whales from a beach in County Donegal has been declared a major success.

The pod of Pilot Whales mysteriously washed up on Rutland Island off the coast of Donegal almost two weeks ago.

Plans to bury the huge creatures on the beach was rejected by locals who claimed the corpses could pose a serious health risk.

Donegal County Council then agreed to remove the whales and take them to County Cavan to be incinerated.

At 0700 GMT on Thursday, Operation Blubber, as locals have named it, finally swung into action.

The Arranmore Fast Ferry took a truck to the island where two containers were filled with dead whales.

Relief

The owner of Arranmore Fast Ferry, Seamus Boyle, who originally found the dead whales, said the three hour operation went very well.

"Everything went fine. In all, it took almost three hours to get the two trucks over and to remove two different loads of whales.

"I thought there would have been a smell from the whales, but it wasn't that bad at all. The area where the whales had been was levelled off again and you would never know they had been there," he said.

Mr Boyle added that it was a relief to finally get rid of the whales.

"People were genuinely afraid that the beach would be contaminated and now that has been sorted. I think it was a sensible decision all round to have them removed," he said.

Local county councillor Marie-Therese Gallagher said locals did not care how much the operation cost.

"Because there was an issue with people's health, the cost of the operation was never an issue. You can't put a price on people's health.

"Everyone is happy with how things have now been sorted," she said.

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