Sperm Whale carcass washes ashore on Coffs Coast
The body of an 11m Sperm Whale has washed ashore overnight on a Coffs Coast beach at North Sapphire. The whale carcass was first spotted floating close to Split Solitary Island yesterday morning and was monitored throughout the day from both land and water by staff from Dolphin Marine Magic (DMM), the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the wildlife rescue organisation “ORRCA”. Over the course of the day Marine Park officers and local dive operators observed several large sharks feasting on the carcass, including a Great White Shark which was estimated to be around 4.5m in length. The whale carcass was last seen at sunset floating within several hundred metres of the shore off Sapphire Beach. DMM staff located the whale again at sunrise on the beach at North Sapphire and with the help of Coffs Harbour police, they cordoned off the area. Members from DMM and ORRCA then worked together to obtain measurement data and biological samples from the whale carcass. DMM Manager of Life Sciences Aaron Tolley said “Sperm Whales are an off shore species of whale and it’s pretty unusual to find one in this close to the coast. It is likely the whale died further out at sea and then drifted in on shore with the currents. The carcass has been severely disfigured by shark bites and on our preliminary inspection we are unable to determine the sex of the animal.” Given the number of large sharks that were seen in the area yesterday feeding on the whale, officials strongly advise everyone against swimming, surfing or diving in the area around Sapphire Beach at this time and recommend all swimming should take place at patrolled beaches. NPWS and Coffs Harbour City Council are now working together to dispose of the whale body. This whale incident is third cetacean incident in less than a week for DMM, ORCCA and the NPWS on the mid-north Coast. Last Friday the three organisations rushed to save a stranded dolphin at Hat Head which later died and last Sunday the three organisations successfully freed a small dolphin trapped in a tidal lagoon at Yamba.