MORNING walkers were treated to an unpleasant sight this morning as they discovered a humpback whale washed up in the shallows of Shark Bay, near Iluka.

National Parks and Wildlife Service officers stood watch over the carcass of the whale, which was found to have died.

A steady stream of onlookers visited the Shark Bay site, with the whale just metres from the shoreline, situated close to the main road in front of the four-wheel-drive access.

A dead humpback whale washed up on Shark Bay Beach, near Iluka early this morning.
A dead humpback whale washed up on Shark Bay Beach, near Iluka early this morning.

A spokeswoman for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said the carcass is around 14 metres long and estimated to weigh up to 45 tonnes.

"(NPWS) had coordinated the retrieval and transport of the carcass to a local disposal site for burial away from the beach," she said.

She said the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbour were assisting with a post-mortem to help understand why the whale died.

Vice President of rescue organisation ORRCA said they received a call from National Parks around 8.40am.

Ms Farrell said cause of death was hard to determine, and believed that the whale would be removed by excavator soon.

"When whales beach, a lot of the time it's because they're old or sick, or if it's a young one maybe something happened to mum," she said.

Ms Farrell urged members of the public to keep their distance from any whale, and said people should call ORRCA on finding an animal, rather than trying to assist it.

A dead humpback whale washed up on Shark Bay Beach, near Iluka early this morning.
A dead humpback whale washed up on Shark Bay Beach, near Iluka early this morning.

"What we'd like people to do is call our rescue line on (02) 9415 3333, and especially if it's alive we'll put the call out to our volunteers to assist and liase with National Parks," she said."

"It's important for members of public to stay away from the whale, don't event try to put it back.

"A lot of people don't understand that their skin is like tissue paper, so if you drag a whale, or a dolphin across the sand it's like sandpaper."

Even though the whale had died, Ms Farrell said it was important for people to steer clear, and not go near the animal as it had the potential to expand and/or explode, or transmit disease.

"The last thing you want is a diseased whale exploding on you," she said. "You can get quite unwell if you touch a deceased whale or take souvenirs, which is illegal with a beast washed up on shore."

The beaching came in the same week that five turtles were rescued from Brooms Head beach.

They are being cared for by Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina, and in a post on their Facebook page they said they were all showing similar symptoms.

"It is really interesting, every year in summer we rescue multiple turtles from Brooms Head," ASR wrote on their Facebook page.

"We guess that these turtles are becoming ill somewhere and that the currents bring them into Brooms Head."

For more information on ORRCA visit http://www.orrca.org.au/


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