A whale carcass has been found strewn across a number of locations on the beach at Old Bar on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

Key points:

  • The whale carcass was spotted this morning by walkers on the beach at Old Bar
  • Council hopes to have the carcass cleared today
  • Stranded whale carcasses can have an impact on shark behaviour but it is not known how long this persists after the carcass is removed

“We were quite shocked and saddened to see it,” Maxine Pertzel said.

She walks the beach regularly and said she has seen all sorts of animals on the beach on her walks.

“But never, ever have I seen something like this, it was quite spectacular and very sad and confronting as well,” Ms Pertzel said.

She Pertzel took photos of the carcass and plans to show them to her grandchildren.

Cleanup underway

Maxine Pertzel spotted parts of the whale carcass in two spots along the beach.(Supplied: Maxine Pertzel)

Daniel Aldridge from MidCoast Council said the whale carcass is likely to be the same one spotted off the coast recently.

Council will remove the carcass and take it to landfill.

“We’re actually hoping to take advantage of the low tide … so we’re hoping to have it done today. If not, we’ll be done first thing tomorrow morning.”

A flesh sample will be taken as part of the removal to collect DNA and sent to the relevant state agency.

While the beach remains open, Mr Aldridge is encouraging people to stay out of the water.

Impacts on shark activity

PhD candidate James Tucker said that sharks can be more interested in a beach when there is a whale carcass there.

James Tucker, a PhD student from the National Marine Science Centre at Southern Cross University, has been studying whale carcass management and disposal, including risk management in terms of changes to shark behaviour.

He said the behaviour of white sharks can change when there is a stranded whale carcass on the beach.

“Usual white shark behaviour is just sort of cruising along the beachline and they check out anything like kelp and rocks and things like that but then they continue to move on,” Mr Tucker said.

“But when there’s a whale carcass in the vicinity, they sort of cut laps and come back and circle and they’re really interested in the area.”

He said the sharks are not necessarily more dangerous when there is a whale carcass about, but they are in the area for longer.

“The next question is, how long does it last after we’ve removed the carcass? Which we’re just not sure of at this point,” Mr Tucker said.

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