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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

What should we do with dead whales on beaches?

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Locals at Casuarina beach surround the beached pilot whale. Photo Department of Primary Industries
Locals at Casuarina beach surround a beached pilot whale. Photo Department of Primary Industries

A Ballina Shire councillor wants the state government to review the way it deals with dead whales following the recent burial and then removal to landfill of a whale at South Ballina.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader has lodged a notice of motion for Thursday’s meeting which calls on the council to write to the NSW Government with a request for the Government to review the procedure to manage marine carcasses on beaches.

Cr Cadwallader said some people were concerned that burying dead whales on beaches increased the risk of attracting sharks to an area.

Similar concerns were voiced when a whale was buried at Port Macquarie recently, resulting in the carcass being dug up and transferred to landfill.

A review would provide the opportunity for the Government to inform the community in respect of the scientific information that is available assessing the likely risks and consequences of beach burials,’ Cr Cadwallader said.

‘The Port Macquarie incident resulted in significant public funds being used for the exhumation and disposal of the large whale.

‘The source of these funds was from Government and council. Therefore it is important under any process to consider the scientific information or risk analysis for the local community to be aware there is a potential financial liability to council if we were to be involved in an operation of this type in the future.’

She said a review would ensure that it was clear who was responsible, and who bears the costs.

‘It may be the case the current practice of burial is retained as the preferred policy direction, however in light of the elevated concerns within the community about the risks of shark attack, it is timely for the procedure to be reviewed and assessed against contemporary community expectations,’ she said.

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  1. Why are we so obsessed with interfering with Mother Nature. Leave the dead whale where it is to be fed off by other creatures and finally it’s remains will return to the earth. It is a part of the cycle of life, get over it and get on with your job Councillor.

  2. I turned up that morning for this whale, representing ORCCA, ready to take records, and even though council was aware I was en route, they had quickly removed the animal. I missed it by only 20 minutes. Records help us to identify individuals and cause of death, information which can contribute to protection measures.


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