Whale deaths

Whale deaths

The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria responded early last week to the stranding of several whales that had washed ashore on a remote section of coast in the Croajingolong National Park, and another two in Mallacoota last Thursday.

Incident controller of the Croajingalong beachings, Michael Turner, said 27 pilot whales and one humpback whale had been found stranded. A team responding assessed the situation after a member of the public reported the incident at around 4pm last Tuesday afternoon.

“The whales are in a very remote part of the Croajingolong National Park that is only accessible on foot,” Mr Turner said.

Experienced staff, including a wildlife expert, were flown in by helicopter to conduct an initial assessment Tuesday afternoon.

They found most of the whales had died, with the few remaining at that time not expected to survive.

More crews headed out on site last Wednesday morning to conduct more thorough assessments and testing on the whales with a further two whales found deceased. The others were assessed by a veterinarian on site and, based on their condition, the decision was made to euthanise the animals humanely.

All 28 whales are now deceased. Due to the condition of the carcass of the humpback whale, it is believed the animal died earlier than the pilot whale stranding.

DELWP said there is no evidence to suggest that the stranding of the two different species is related.

A team was redeployed on Thursday to continue undertaking scientific sampling, including measuring and recording of each animal, which always occurs for stranded of whales.

This data will be sent to the Melbourne Museum to assist with research into whales.

The reasons why the whales stranded are unknown.

Due to the remote location, DELWP said burial or removal of the whales is not feasible and they will be left on the beach to undergo natural decomposition.

DELWP and Parks Victoria officers also responded to two new whale carcasses washed up on the beach further east last Thursday morning, east of the Mallacoota township on Big Beach.

The pilot whales had been dead for a while given the condition of the carcasses.

“There is no clear evidence to suggest the incident is related to the stranding further west however, the condition of the animal’s suggest they may have died within a similar time frame,” Mallacoota incident controller, Stephen Young, said.

The incident management team is working on the best strategy to remove the carcasses from the beach.

People are advised not to enter the water due to the increased likelihood of sharks in the area attracted by the dead whales.

Signs have been erected at entry points along the beaches where the whales have come ashore warning visitors and locals of the carcasses on the beach and hazards associated with contacting them.

Walkers are asked not to approach, touch or interfere with the whale carcasses.

PICTURED: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning officers prepare to remove the dead pilot whales from the Mallacoota beach last week.