You can make a lot of dubious purchases online, but eBay has yet to jump the shark—er, whale. The town of Cape St.George, Newfoundland, tried an unorthodox way to dispose of a 40-foot rotting whale carcass decaying on their shores, but in spite of interest from bidders, the online auction site has shut the whale sale down.
Unfortunately, this is one instance where eBay’s well-intended restrictions on the sale of marine mammals might do more harm than good. The town of 1,000 hasn’t been able to find an affordable way of removing the rotting sperm whale that washed ashore on their beaches last week, and Canada’s fishery department refuses to get involved. When Cape St.George’s town council met this Sunday, they decided to try a 21st century fix before the smell of the corpse became unbearable. Thankfully, The Telegram captured this bizarre screenshot before the eBay Gods intervened:
Here’s the text from the removed listing, which was appropriately placed in eBay’s “weird stuff” category:
This 40 foot sperm whale rolled up on the beach last week. The actual seller is the town of Cape St. George which is responsible for disposing of it before it starts to decay. Once the fat and flesh is removed you have a spectacular 40 foot skeleton of the largest toothed whale in the world, great for museums and other attractions. To prevent it rotting in the town it can be towed to isolated beaches on the Port au Port Peninsula to allow the seagulls and other birds to remove the flesh. Call 709-644-2290 or 709-649-7070 for more details.
Please note the successful bidder will have to remove the whale within 30 days.
The post also dryly notes that “no returns” will be accepted. Mayor Peter Fenwick summarized Cape St. George’s predicament for AFP:
[Federal officials] didn’t offer any suggestions about what to do with it, and didn’t offer assistance, they just said ‘You have to get rid of it’, so we decided to list it on eBay[…]Frankly we would sell it for zero if we had to… as long as they take responsibility for removing the whale.
The listing received bids of up to $2,000 before eBay removed it for violating the site’s code of ethics. Canadian Federal officials also contacted Fenwick to inform him that selling the whale is illegal. The mayor asks that anyone who could use a whale carcass for any reason please step forward, saying, “If we’re not allowed to sell it, we’re willing to drop our 99 cent price down to a zero.”
If you are an eccentric millionaire reading this, please intervene on Cape St. George’s behalf. Surely you have spare loonies to preserve the skeleton for the town? Or at the very least to bribe an eBay official?