TALE OF A WHALE

South Western Times - - Front Page - Shan­non Ver­ha­gen

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.

Pic­ture: Shan­non Ver­ha­gen

An ex­ca­va­tor is used to slowly drag the whale car­cass from the wa­ter at Belvidere Beach.

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