GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 21, 2012

Cape Ann Motor Inn gets whale of a visitor

Dead mammal settles on inn's beach

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — The Cape Ann Motor Inn had about 17 guests Friday.

But owner Brad Pierce does not know how to handle his latest client — the carcass of a dead pilot whale.

The whale’s body first made its way onto Long Beach in Rockport Tuesday morning, with the town’s Department of Public Works allowing nature take its course and letting it wash back out to sea.

On Wednesday, however, the carcass made its way further down the beach, onto Pierce’s private property.

So far, Pierce is unsure of just how to accommodate the 19-foot whale, which has been dead for about two weeks, according to Pierce, who spoke with a whale rescue volunteer. Earlier, Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said a necropsy could not be done because the whale is too badly decomposed.

Pierce has nicknamed it “the one that won’t get away.”

On Wednesday, a Gloucester Department of Public Works crew was working nearby and tried to help Pierce with the issue. The DPW employees moved the whale closer to the ocean, hoping the tide would take it back out farther into the ocean. But it rolled back in with the tide Thursday morning, this time coming even closer to the Cape Ann Motor Inn, and resting Thursday afternoon about 50 to 75 feet from the seawall.

Mike Hale, director of the DPW, said this was no great surprise.

“We made an attempt but to no real avail,” he said. “We wanted to be as civic minded as possible.”

For his part, Pierce said he’s leaning against burying the whale, as the smell can still make its way up through the sand in the summer. Right now, he is still taking a “wait and see” attitude, hoping the tide will eventually take it back out. Thursday night, however, the whale remained on the beach, about 12 feet away from the Rockport town line.

Pierce said the whale’s carcass is far from the worst — or strangest — thing he has seen wash up on his shore over the years. In more than 20 years of operating Cape Ann Motor Inn, Pierce has seen harbor mines, fuel tanks, nurse sharks and other aquatic wildlife turn up outside the inn.

He said that in the past, the U.S. Coast Guard has assisted him with removing dead creatures from the beach in the past, but those were different times.

Throughout the day, meanwhile, visitors were coming by and taking photos of the whale, which is becoming a bit of a tourist attraction.

“I might put a Christmas hat on it and have people pose with it,” Pierce joked.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.