Dead whale buried at Port Macquarie beach

Helen Merkell
Swellnet Dispatch

Breaking: In a win for surfers, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has voted to remove the whale carcass

A humpback whale, which died on Nobbys Beach, Port Macquarie, had dragged a fishing trap and ropes more than 1,700 kilometres before it met its end.

On Sunday, the humpback was freed from its entanglement in a fishing trap by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) whale disentanglement team, but it beached itself a few hours later. Port Macquarie Marine Rescue unit commander Neil Yates said the trap it was caught-up in has been identified as coming from Tasmania.

"It looks like it's actually been tangled for possibly a year," he said.

"It doesn't look like it was a fresh entanglement and as such the condition of the animal was very poor."

The dead whale was caught among rocks and bgan to break up when moved.

Beaches along the Port Macquarie coast were closed yesterday due to the danger posed by the whale carcass.

"The big message to get to people now is that the carcass is deteriorating," said Yates. "There will be some bits and pieces floating in the water which is going to attract large predators. Do not go in the water. I can assure you there are some very large sharks out there."

The carcass was buried in a deep hole at the back of the beach and covered with two metres of clay.

The annual southerly migration of humpbacks is currently underway, with whales returning from their warm water feeding grounds in southern Queensland to their Antarctic krill feeding grounds. The whale rescue and research organisation ORRCA has responded to many whales caught up in marine debris, including buoys and ropes, this migration season.

Vice president of ORRCA Shona Lorigan said such entanglements often prove to be fatal.

"This is a huge journey that the whales are undertaking from Antarctica to Queensland and back," she said. "They don't really feed, they may opportunistically feed along the way, but the bulk of the feeding for a humpback whale is done in Antarctica. They are expending a huge amount of energy for the journey."

"So if they then have a little bit of added hardware to trail behind them, whether it be a trap or a whole lot of buoys and floats, it makes that journey much tougher."

The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council said that in consultation with the NPWS and ORRCA a decision was made to bury the 20-tonne animal in a deep hole on Nobbys Beach. It was the option of last resort after efforts to tow it out to sea failed.

Beaches along the Port Macquarie coastline are closed until further notice.


© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


gcuts's picture
gcuts's picture
gcuts commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 7:17am


They'll be wondering why there are shark 'encounters' in the area over the coming years ...

soggydog's picture
soggydog's picture
soggydog commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 9:04am

Why are the sharks there......... because of a dead whale.
Why is the whale dead......... because humans are pretty stupid when it comes to sustainable food collection.
Wait for the cries of"kill the sharks" the next time some one gets chomped.
Or complaints of how the whale is disposed of, but how much conversation will involve commercial or recreational fishing and the destruction of the thing that brings us all to this site....... the ocean.

Stj's picture
Stj's picture
Stj commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 9:08am

Yep this is about 400 metres as the crow flys from where i usually surf. Bummer. Poor old whale.I Will be looking for waves elsewhere for a while i think. Although the fishing at Nobbys might be real good for a bit. Might have to dust off the fishing rod!


trevortube's picture
trevortube's picture
trevortube commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 9:34am

Well, one thing learnt.

Shackled too a fishing trap.
1700ks, farkn ell.

Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 10:09am

I think it was a couple of years ago now a whale was beached on a popular surf beach in SW WA. I am pretty sure they cut it up and trucked it away from the coastline.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 11:23am

You won't be getting trucks onto that beach.
Locals aren't happy though.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 11:44am

Some drone footage be interesting to whats lurking on shoreline.

Corey Enfield's picture
Corey Enfield's picture
Corey Enfield commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 1:51pm

We are working hard to gather and then present material at a council meeting tonight. The only desired outcome is the removal of the animal. Stay tuned.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 2:00pm

Nice work Corey!

kslice's picture
kslice's picture
kslice commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 2:19pm

Anyone done any decent studies on dealing with a whale carcass? Why don't they get cut up and taken back out to sea? Sure it would be a gross job, but if it has to get done, it has to get done. Port's surf tourism would surely be effected in the coming years when bruce and his mates start hanging around - obviously not considered... Or is it just easier to sweep it under the carpet - out of sight, out of mind, or does the council actually think this is whats best?

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb commented Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 at 4:23pm

Well done Corey. I hope council do the right thing.........

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 21 Sep 2017 at 11:36am

Looks like council are getting out the shovels.

As Corey says in the above article, "it ain't gonna be pretty."

trippergreenfeet's picture
trippergreenfeet's picture
trippergreenfeet commented Thursday, 21 Sep 2017 at 11:30am

About 15yrs ago a 15m whale washed up on Silversands beach south of Perth. Was at the end of my street so I got to see all the action go down over a couple of days.
The Council called in a group of ex whalers from Albany (old fellas at the time) to cut it up and truck away. The Council were great, no fucking about, just get that whale off the beach ... no buried berly pot for years to come. Unlike the whale up in Cottesloe that got buried not long before Ken Crew was taken just meters off the beach by a big GW.

The Mullaway fishing at Silversands was as good as it gets for months after with plenty of other big biteys out there too ... good thing it isn't a surf beach but the kiddies stayed out of the for a long time afterwards cause it's a perfect beach to take the family down for a dip.

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