A humpback whale that was covered in sea lice and spotted swimming around Eden last weekend has died and been removed from the water at Quarantine Bay.
The whale carcass has reportedly been taken to a Bega Valley waste facility.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Bega Valley Shire Council coordinated the removal, and a council spokesperson said warning signs remain in place in the Quarantine Bay area in Eden, with advice for swimmers to avoid the area due to large numbers of sharks.
The seven metre whale was seen covered in sea lice and looking unhealthy in waters near Eden on Sunday, which had some sightseers alarmed.
Video Warning: Some people may find the below vision of the whale carcass being removed graphic and disturbing.
Lee Mansfield from the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans (ORRCA) told East Coast Radio it wasn’t unusual to see juvenile humpack whales travelling north to the Great Barrier Reef in areas such as the South Coast this early in the year.
“The humpback was probably three, four or five years old which makes it an independent juvenile, and it’s quite normal for them to swim north by themselves a little earlier than adults,” Mansfield said.
Aside from it being young and alone, it was the fact it looked unhealthy that had onlookers around Eden concerned.
“From the reports we received and the photos we were sent, you could tell it was sick, and why it was sick is anyone’s guess but whales are mammals like us, so they get numerous diseases and injuries,” Mansfield said.
Eden local, Kolinda Mason, sighted the whale carcass being eaten by sharks just off Shadracks Beach in Nullica Bay, south of Eden on Tuesday afternoon (February 21).
“I emailed ORRCA to notify them of the deceased whale, as I wanted someone to get onto it as soon as possible due to the influx of sharks feeding on the carcass,” Mason said.
The carcass eventually washed onto rocks along the western side of Twofold Bay before Bega Valley Shire Council and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service coordinated it’s removal.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has taken samples of the carcass to be give to researchers for further analysis.
Images: Joanne Korner, Kolinda Mason
Video: Joanne Korner