Friday, June 24, 2011


Death of a leviathan

Last week we witnessed one of the saddest sights I have ever seen in Corsica – a dead whale being winched out of the harbour in Propriano.

The huge finback whale (the second largest whale species after the blue whale) was clearly a youngster, being a mere 12m in length and weighing just 16 tonnes. It was first spotted by an aeroplane near Bonifacio, and it later ran aground on the rocks of Murtoli, a snooty private beach in the south west.

No one yet knows how or why it died.

While we were having our dinner at the Restaurant Romano in the Port of Propriano, we became aware of people and cars flocking into the port. Then a very large mobile crane arrived and we saw a tug towing a large load across the bay towards the port. At first I thought it was an upturned boat.

But of course it was nothing of the kind. In between courses we popped across the road to see what was going on. The first attempt managed to get the carcass half out of the water, but the folk in charge of the operation decided to drop it back into the water and I guess that’s where it stayed overnight. The sight (and frankly, the smell) didn’t do much for the digestive process as we finished our meals.

I gather that the body has now been sent elsewhere for dissection to try and establish how and why this enormous creature died.

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