It may take days to remove a decaying sperm whale carcass that washed up on a surf coast beach, just as school holidays expect an influx of tourists to the area.
The 18-meter-long sunburnt male sperm whale was seen floating in shallow waters along the coast for several days.
It set off a shark alert for the area before it washed up in the sand about a mile west of the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club on Tuesday morning.
The dead whale washed up on Fairhaven Beach in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Photo credit: Paul Greene
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Environment, Land, Water and Planning said the removal could take a few days.
Incident Controller Barry James urged people to stay away from the decomposing whale and warned locals of health and safety hazards trying to inspect the site.
« We’re going to work well into the evening to work with the tide and remove as much cadaver as possible from the beach, » James said Tuesday afternoon.
“We ask the community to keep your distance, as heavy machinery is parked on the beach during operations and access to the beach is temporarily restricted. ”
The beach has been closed and a « dangerous animal » warning has been issued for Fairhaven and Moggs Creek.
« An increase in shark activity was reported in Fairhaven today due to a large whale carcass, » the message reads.
« A whale carcass can attract sharks to the area and mean they are closer to the shore than normal. While it is not uncommon for sharks to live off the Victorian coast, extra caution should be exercised in the area. «
Liz Price, general manager of regional tourism on the Great Ocean Road, said the Environment Department was working to remove the carcass as soon as possible and it was not expected to affect tourists.
« The region, like most parts of the country, is highly dependent on visitors and we hope for a busy summer summit, » said Ms. Price.
« It’s likely a timely reminder as we head to the summer summit to encourage visitors to swim on gated beaches and stay informed about conditions. «
Museums Victoria Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Erich Fitzgerald said stranding gave researchers an opportunity to glimpse a creature they seldom saw up close.
« Despite the tragic circumstances – especially live strandings – it is important to know that washings are rare and important opportunities for scientists as [whales] are guardians of oceanic health, » said Dr. Fitzgerald.
« I suspect that if this partially decomposed whale is on a hard-to-reach beach, steps may be taken to remove it so that the impact on tourism and local use will be minimal. «
Howard Hughes from Fairhaven said he had seen the dead whale drifting along the coast for the past few days.
« He was in Fairhaven, about half a kilometer away, [on Monday] night when the sun went down. It’s a little color because he got sunburned, « said Hughes.
« He was before Anglesea and Point Roadknight the day before so he’s been drifting for a while. «
By early Tuesday morning, a crowd of curious locals gathered next to government officials on the beach to examine the giant marine mammal.
« It’s got a little ripple. If he was in the country for another day or so he would really smell, « said Hughes.
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Whales, Great Ocean Road, Moggs Creek, Sperm Whale, Sharks
World News – AU – Crews are working to remove the carcass of the beach whales in Fairhaven
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