Beached whale a mystery
IT takes a very big hole to bury a dead whale, and Nambucca Shire Council officers had their work cut out yesterday.
A nine-metre decomposing humpback whale carcass washed ashore on the northern end of Surf Beach, Nambucca Heads, sometime during Tuesday night.
Resident Lea Gillard said she first saw the whale floating upside down in the water around 6pm on Tuesday and, thinking it was an upturned boat, reported it to 000.
Nambucca Marine Rescue went to investigate, finding the whale about six kilometres offshore. Then, overnight the tide and current brought the carcass to shore.
"It looked to me as though a shark had bit it, because a boat would have sliced it up," Ms Gillard said.
But while National Parks and Wildlife Service were unable to say how it died, they said its deep wounds may have been inflicted after its death by sharks.
"The nine-metre carcass had obviously begun to decompose at sea as the skin and baleen had fallen off before it washed ashore, leaving the carcass with an exposed white layer," NPWS Coffs Coast ranger Ann Walton said.
"Due to its condition we were unable to determine the cause of death, although some tissue samples have been taken for further analysis.
"It is a very unusual find as humpback whales are not normally seen in local waters at this time of year."