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Beaked whales wash ashore in Port Macquarie, aerial operation removes carcasses

Wednesday January 5, 2022 - 07:52 AEDT
ABC image
Three beaked whales were discovered washed ashore on a Port Macquarie beach. - ABC

Three beaked whales have washed up on a Port Macquarie beach in northern New South Wales.


The whales were spotted during the afternoon in shallow water off a rugged, rocky beach and died on the beach a short time later.


National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Shane Robinson said it was a species rarely seen.


"Generally speaking we don't commonly see beaked whales so they are a rarity, especially on this stretch of the coast," he said.


Mr Robinson said it was unclear why they had come so close to shore.


"The animals are in good condition physically, but when we first arrived they were being washed around on the rocks and they would have been impacted and injured as a result of that," he said.


"Whales strand at different points, and there's various theories as to why they do.


"We have had heavy seas for the last week or so and big king tides, so that could be a factor. But we don't know absolutely."


Mr Robinson said the specific type of beaked whale was yet to be determined.


"They are more of a deeper water species and the only definitive way to identify them is to remove them from the site and take further samples," he said.


"They are one of the groups of whales we don't know a lot about so there is a lot of scientific interest in retrieving the carcass to try and understand more about this species."


Whale carcasses removed by aerial sling


An operation was launched late in the day to retrieve the whale carcasses.


It is estimated they each weigh around 500-600 kilograms.


Mr Robinson said there was no vehicle access to the beach and even pedestrian access was challenging, so the whales were removed by air and onto the back of a truck.


"We are working with Port Macquarie Hastings Council," he said.


"The sea conditions aren't good and aren't going to be good for the next five days so ? the aerial sling operation is probably the safest and most effective way. 


"They are being moved back to a location where the scientists and marine experts can do further analysis of the animals."







- ABC

© ABC 2022

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