Remains of dead whale buried under Rockport parking lot

Dave Taylor cut into the whale on Oct. 23 to recover a bone from the whale.
John Blanding/Globe Staff/File
Dave Taylor cut into the whale on Oct. 23 to recover a bone from the whale.

This whale tale has come to an end. A dead finback first spotted floating in Boston Harbor close to a month ago has ­finally been laid to rest under the parking lot of Cape Hedge Beach in Rockport.

The burial on Thursday capped an unusual odyssey, one that had spawned an odd tourist attraction on the rocky shores of Cape Ann.

“Basically, it was just a pile of blubber by the time it was said and done,” Joe Parisi, Rockport’s public works director, said Friday.


The 55-foot whale was seen Oct. 7 in South Boston waters. Coastal communities braced themselves as the carcass bobbed about. Federal law says that if it lands on your beach, disposing of it is your problem.

John Blanding/Globe Staff/File
A finback whale beached in Rockport.
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The whale washed up on Rainsford Island in Boston Harbor, then drifted back out to sea.

The carcass then floated just north of Pebble Beach in ­Rockport, but was soon on the move again because of strong currents from Hurricane Sandy.

After weeks of teasing beach communities and leaving a stench wherever it washed up, the carcass made landfall for the final time on Cape Hedge Beach, about a mile from its previous resting spot.

Rockport called in a scientist from the state’s Division of ­Marine Fisheries to collect the bones from the whale, which might end up on display at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, N.H., Parisi said.


Left with a daunting mass of blubber, close to 20 volunteers walked onto Cape Hedge Beach first thing Thursday morning, equipped with fillet knives, he said.

“There was still a substantial amount of blubber and flesh to be buried,” he said.

The volunteers cut up the malodorous flesh, while an ­excavator dug a 5-foot-deep pit in the beach’s gravel parking lot, which would become the whale’s grave, Parisi said.

Volunteers used the excavator and a front-end loader to carry the whale’s remains from the shoreline to the parking lot, he said. By 4 p.m., the deed was done.

“It’s nice that we’re able to dispose of the carcass,” Parisi said. “Otherwise, there would probably tend to be a number of calls on the smells and odors.”

Melissa Werthmann
can be reached at melissa.