TALE OF A WHALE
A humpback whale carcass that prompted shark warnings has been removed from a South West beach to be buried.
Beach-goers got a surprise on Tuesday when they spotted the 8m-to-10m, partially decomposed carcass rolling in the waves on the shore of Belvidere Beach north of Bunbury about 9am.
Parks and Wildlife Service rangers assessed the scene and called in reinforcements – including an excavator, front-end loader and trucks – to remove it from the beach.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions South West program leader for nature conservation Kim Williams said being able to get the animal off the beach was a good result.
“Some locations in the South West are just impossible to get to with machinery, for example rocky beaches or cliffs, and we just have to let nature take its course, which can be weeks,” he said.
“Being able to get machines in there makes the whole operation a lot simpler and quicker.”
Members of the public perched on the dunes watching as the massive beast was slowly and delicately dragged up the beach, before being loaded onto a truck on its way to be buried.
Mr Williams said a handful of whales washed up on beaches between Belvidere and the Capes each year, from minke to sperm whales and even blues, but humpbacks were the most common.
“At the start of winter when we start to get a few cold weather fronts and larger swells, we get a few wash up,” he said. “The swell action brings the carcasses to shore. We often get larger whales wash up in the Bunbury Geographe region and get smaller whales or dolphins washing up near Busselton and Dunsborough.”
Humpbacks frequent the South West coast during their annual migration from Antarctica to Ningaloo and back, with sightings peaking in late winter and spring.
An excavator is used to slowly drag the whale carcass from the water at Belvidere Beach.