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Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

Whale could not be saved on Seven Mile Beach

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Humpback whale at Seven Mile Beach on Saturday. Photo Craig Parry Photography.

A concerted team effort by NPWS, ORCCA, Seaworld and the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (BBWH) was unable to save a stranded Humpback whale on the weekend, after it washed up in Lennox Head.

A humback whale was discovered stranded on the beach at Lennox Head early on Saturday morning. Photo Dr Stephen Van Mil.

The whale was discovered on Seven Mile Beach on Saturday and it wasn’t long before the community and animal rescue services were on the site.

Foundation and Head Veterinarian at the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, Dr Bree Talbot, told The Echo today that it is hard to age these animals, but it is estimated to be between 5-10years old.

A great example of collaboration

Dr Chantal Whitten, Associate Veterinarian, Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, Dr Duane March, National Parks and Wildlife Service and
Dr Bree Talbot, Foundation and Head Veterinarian Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital. Photo Dr Stephen Van Mil.

Dr Talbot said in a great example of collaboration, NPWS, ORCCA, Seaworld and BBWH. ‘We all worked together to keep the animal cool – putting water on him with wet towels – providing anti anxiety/stress medication, and taking blood to analyze how well the animal’s body was coping with the event. This helps guide the vets on what the prognosis is for the whale. 

Community members, vets and animals rescue services all did their best to save the whale. Photo Dr Stephen Van Mil.

‘National parks were coordinated with council to help get heavy machinery in to try to move the sand.’

It has been reported that the whale died at around 7pm and Dr Talbot said we may never know the true cause of death but it was likely a combination of stress, organ failure and exhaustion. ‘Having roughly 30 tonne of weight on the lungs can never be good.’

Hard to know the likely cause

Sadly the whale did not survive that stranding. Photo Dr Stephen Van Mil.

Dr Talbot said the it is hard to know the likely cause of the stranding – it could have been misadventure or illness – and that is does not necessarily herald more standings but anything it possible.

Dr Talbot said that the community and everyone involved needs to time to heal from this. ‘They are majestic creatures and so important for our ecosystem. Asking questions is great but it needs to be done in a respectful way. It is really sad time. It is important to understand that everyone there on the day did their best to help this animal and comments on social media saying not enough was done can be really hurtful.

Grateful to all the organisations involved

‘We are grateful to all the organisations involved, who came together to help the whale and even though it was not the outcome we had hoped for – it is still a great learning experience and gives us more knowledge of this happens again.’

The remains of the whale will be buried behind the dunes on the beach.

Sadly, the whale did not survive the stranding. Photo Craig Parry Photography.

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