Dolphin Marine Rescue vet Duan March and wildlife officer Kieran Marshall inspect from Coffs Harbour inspect the sperm shale carcass at Patches beach.
Dolphin Marine Rescue vet Duan March and wildlife officer Kieran Marshall inspect from Coffs Harbour inspect the sperm shale carcass at Patches beach.

‘MYSTERY’: Sperm whale’s death baffles marine expert

CROWN Land and NSW Parks will attempt to remove the 54-tonne carcass of an adult male sperm whale from Patchs Beach, South Ballina, this morning.

Vet Duan March and officer Keiran Marshall, from Dolphin Marine Rescue, travelled from Coffs Harbour to Ballina on Saturday to conduct a post mortem on the whale.

Mr March said the animal was an adult male sperm whale, and its death was "still a mystery".

"(This) is definitely not regular, definitely unusual, and it's in a very good condition, there is no obvious sign of shark attacks, so at the moment the cause of death is still a mystery," he said.

 

The 17m adult sperm whale died at the beach in the afternoon of Friday, September 11.
The 17m adult sperm whale died at the beach in the afternoon of Friday, September 11.

 

"We won't be able to make a complete post mortem, because a lot of the tissue has already degraded, but we are hoping to get into the stomach and ensure there is no plastic ingestion, no obvious cause of death or anything like that."

The vet said he will attempt to conduct a post mortem once the whale has been moved out of the water, into a safer area.

"Hopefully it will not take more than two days," he said.

"Our part of the job comes after the carcass is moved somewhere else. Once the post mortem is done, then the remains can be disposed of."

 

LIS140920WHALEvid: A 17m, 54tonne adult sperm whale died at Patchs Beach, South Ballina, on Friday. Crown Land and National Parks and trying to remove it.
LIS140920WHALEvid: A 17m, 54tonne adult sperm whale died at Patchs Beach, South Ballina, on Friday. Crown Land and National Parks and trying to remove it.

 

Mr March warned that was illegal to approach marine mammals, even when dead, under the NSW Biodiversity and Conservation Act 2016.

"Please respect it, don't be an idiot, don't get close to it," he warned.

A spokesman from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Crown Lands said the authority was working with Soil Conservation Service to remove the whale carcass.

"Given the size of the carcass and its condition, and the remote location on Patchs Beach, it is a difficult operation," he said.

 

The heavy machinery used to attempt the removal of the whale carcass at Patchs Beach, South Ballina.
The heavy machinery used to attempt the removal of the whale carcass at Patchs Beach, South Ballina.

 

"Two bulldozers and an excavator will be used to move the carcass to the head of the beach where it will be placed onto a truck for removal to landfill at a licensed waste management facility."

Attempts to remove the marine mammal were not successful yesterday.

Officers from Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA), Dolphin Marine Rescue Animal from Coffs Harbour, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) - Crown Lands, Department of Fisheries, Jali Aboriginal Council and NSW Parks were at the site.