By Kirra Grimes
THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is investigating after a rare pygmy sperm whale that washed up on a South Gippsland beach late last month was decapitated by unknown offenders.
Locals made the gruesome discovery at Venus Bay over the first weekend of June, and promptly informed authorities, who are still searching for the perpetrator/s.
The matter has been referred to DELWP’s Conservation Regulator for investigation, with a DELWP spokesperson confirming that “the whale’s head has been removed,” and that this sort of interference attracts severe penalties under the Wildlife Act 1975.
The whale washed up on May 26, several kilometres east of the Venus Bay township, near the Five Mile Track.
At the time, DELWP – the lead agency in responding to whale and dolphin entanglements, strandings and vessel strikes – assessed the carcass, collected routine samples and measurements, and made the decision leave it in situ and allow for natural decomposition.
One Venus Bay local who stumbled across the headless carcass on a beach walk last Sunday, but did not wish to be named, described the sight as “quite bizarre”.
“Somebody had obviously chopped it [the head] off. And there were tyre tracks coming from Venus Bay, so it was premeditated and planned, I would suggest,” they said.
“The reaction we had was the same as everyone we’ve spoken to about it: Are you serious? Surely that’s a joke?
“I don’t know why you would sit around and go, ‘We need a whale’s head to complete our lives; let’s go get one!’
“And I imagine it would’ve been quite an effort to cut it off… It’s very strange.”
It’s not the first “thoughtless” and “disrespectful” incident to have occurred on the popular beach, and locals are keen to remind everyone of the simple message: “Leave it as you found it”.
“We can’t stop people coming; but if they come, they should keep their knives in their pockets.”
If you have information, phone the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline on 1300 136 017.