PARKS Victoria is considering leaving a 15-tonne humpback whale at a Kilcunda beach to decompose naturally because they can’t get to it with an excavator.
A 300-metre exclusion zone has been set up around the two-year-old humpback whale as its remains are protected by the law.
“There is also the possibility of pathogens near the whale that could be harmful to humans, so please stay away from the carcass,” Parks Victoria said in a statement.
Parks Victoria is keen to bury the nine-metre long whale above the high tide line at the base of the dune, but because of its location, they can’t get an excavator to it.
Although, there is a chance the whale will move along the beach by ocean swells and it could be moved to a more accessible area.
There’s also the option of moving it by boat, but Parks Victoria say it would be difficult and moving it isn’t a preferred option.
“Whales can be moved by boat from inaccessible beaches to a more accessible beach to be buried,” the statement read.
“They will not be left floating out to sea as they will become a safety risk for boats and may return to land elsewhere.”
A shark warning remains in place at the beach from Kilcunda to Powlett River, as the carcass can attract sharks.
If Parks Victoria can find a way to bury the humpback whale, there would be little risk of sharks being attracted to the area.
“Burial of the whale is an environmentally friendly option that allows the whale to naturally decompose.”
The whale would be buried under one metre of sand.
“The whale will be monitored to ensure it stays covered with sand, and there is little risk of sharks being attracted to the area.
“Please note this is currently not possible at the Kilcunda Cemetery Beach as there is no access for an excavator.”
The simplest and most environmentally-friendly option is to let the carcass decompose naturally, Parks Victoria said.
Although it’s unknown how long it will take to decompose and the beach will continue to be at an increased risk of sharks until it has decomposed.
But how common is it for whales to wash ashore?
“This is a common occurrence for whales making their return migratory journey to Antarctic waters from warmer waters north of Australia, and we unfortunately do see them being washed ashore along the Gippsland coast,” Parks Victoria said in a statement.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning staff, alongside Parks Victoria rangers, will continue to monitor the carcass.
While it’s not known when or how the whale died, it was reported to Parks Victoria on Sunday, September 24.