Shark alert issued for Ocean Beach Surfing Spot in Denmark after sick humpback whale stranded itself and died

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Eliza KavanaghAlbany Advertiser
VideoMore than 130 pilot whales have been rescued after a mass stranding event off the West Australian coast. The animals started swimming into Toby Inlet in Busselton yesterday morning before stranding themselves on the shore.

A popular south coast beach will remain closed until authorities have dealt with the remains of a humpback whale which stranded itself onshore and died.

The discovery just after 10pm on Friday night prompted a shark warning and the closure of the Ocean Beach Surfing Spot, near the Denmark Surf Life Saving Club, on Saturday morning in Denmark.

Marine mammal experts from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions confirmed on Saturday afternoon the 9.5m whale was deceased and that it had been in poor health before it died.

“Prior observations of the whale’s condition confirmed its health was significantly compromised and it was closely monitored before passing away naturally,” a DBCA spokesperson said.

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“Perth Zoo veterinarians and staff will remain at the beach to take samples from the carcass for testing.”

DBCA will support the Shire of Denmark to remove the carcass from the beach.

Parks and Wildlife Service officers reported the stranding on Friday night and were monitoring the animal with staff from the Shire of Denmark and Fisheries WA as they awaited further assessment.

The public has been advised to stay away from the area, as the carcass may lure sharks close to the shoreline.

The beach, including the dog exercise area, will be closed until the stranding incident is resolved.

It comes after a group of about 160 pilot whales stranded themselves last week in Dunsborough at Toby Inlet.

Twenty-nine whales died as a result but the remainder stayed offshore and continued on their journey.

While pilot whales are prone to group strandings, DBCA advised it is rare for humpback whales to beach in pods.

“Operational experience over decades of managing whale strandings across the State, tells us humpback whales do not strand in pods, like pilot whales, and it is our experience that only sick, old or injured humpback whales strand,” the spokesperson said.

Humpback whales are commonly seen along the south coast at this time of the year when they start migrating north.

Witnesses to shark sightings should report it to Water Police on 9442 8600.

For shark alerts and advice, visit SharkSmart at www.sharksmart.com.au.

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