Sport

Whale fails to respond

NPWS ranger Dave McFarlane pours water on the whale beached on Back Beach, Brooms Head as Sam Girdler, 6, of Brisbane watches.
NPWS ranger Dave McFarlane pours water on the whale beached on Back Beach, Brooms Head as Sam Girdler, 6, of Brisbane watches.

IT WAS a sad but humane outcome for a three-metre pygmy sperm whale which beached itself on Back Beach, Brooms Head on Thursday.

After at least 20 hours of struggle, the whale was put down by lethal injection as the small group of volunteers, who made its last few hours more comfortable, looked on.

The whale was first noticed by Susie Johnston of Brisbane who was running along the beach about 5pm on Wednesday.

"I thought it was a shark," she said. "It was on the edge of the water, just in a gully."

Mrs Johnston said she ran back to the family's holiday house at Broom's Head and a whole group returned and worked to turn the whale around and take advantage of the high tide.

"It seemed to be bleeding a lot and it was much bigger than it is today," she said.

The extended family group, including six children, managed to get the whale to swim away from the beach at one stage.

"We let out a big cheer, but then it turned around and came back," she said.

"The kids were so upset, four of them were crying and the older two were fighting back the tears."

The family continued their mission until dark but eventually had to leave.

Expecting to find the whale had died over night, Mrs Johnston and her sister-in-law Teresa Eyre returned to the site on Thursday morning about 9am and found it still alive but fully beached in the mid-tide.

They began dousing the whale with sea water using a bucket and a container to keep it hydrated.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger Dave McFarlane arrived on the scene and helped co-ordinate the bucketing of sea water onto the stranded beast and managed to recruit some more volunteers.

He covered the animal with a cotton sheet and towel and built an ad hoc shade for its head.

Though it was still breathing and flapping its tail occasionally, the whale's skin had peeled significantly and there were some abrasions around its right eye.

By the time Pet Porpoise Pool veterinarian Duan March arrived about 12.30pm it was showing signs of weakness.

Within minutes Dr March assessed that the most humane thing to do was to euthanise the animal.

He said given that the whale had spent a whole night on the beach and was bleeding profusely, it had very poor prospects for recovery.

He took blood samples which, he said, would be sent off to the US for analysis and gave the animal a lethal injection in the tail.

It died peacefully a short time later.

"Usually if there is a single whale stranded, it is either sick or injured," he said.

He said he couldn't tell what caused the sperm whale to beach itself but one possibility was the morbillavirus which had become more prevalent in marine animals recently.

It is understood the whale will be buried at a nearby sand dune but Mr McFarlane said a local museum may be interested in keeping the skull.

"These whales aren't exactly common around here and they keep a low profile well below the surface mostly, unlike dolphins."


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

REVEALED: NCEIA Dolphin Award winners 2016

THE BIG ONE: Northern Rivers musician and SCU lecturer Leigh Carriage won Album of the year for her new release Weave.

The list of the best local musicians for this year has been revealed

School's out as 50,000 NSW teachers stop work

About 50,000 state school teachers across NSW will stop work on Thursday morning for a salary vote.

Minimal supervision will still be available as 50,000 teachers vote

REVEALED: The best Christmas tree in the Northern Rivers

Kyogle's Christmas tree 2016.

Northern Rivers residents have spoken

Local Partners

The personal tragedy behind road crash statistics

A SERIES of heart-wrenching personal stories about the impact of road tragedies in our region will premiere tonight.

Five things to do in Ballina this week

ICON: Renee Geyer is coming to Ballina.

Music, theatre, culture and more

Elvis is about to leave the building for good

FOR THE LAST TIME: Elvis impersonator, Craig Teys, will perform for the last time at the Slipway Hotel on December 3.

"I wouldn't change it for anything. But it is time to finish.”

WATCH: Local artists featured on ABC's iView

DOCUMENTARY: Behind the scenes of Createability short film Corey the Warrier are Yuin/Bundjalung man and painter Corey Stewart and filmmaker Isabel Darling.

Short films feature local artists living with disabilities

Sia, Keith Urban top Aussie Grammy nominations

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at the 50th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards

Beyonce dominates with nine nods for 2017 Grammy Awards

REVEALED: NCEIA Dolphin Award winners 2016

THE BIG ONE: Northern Rivers musician and SCU lecturer Leigh Carriage won Album of the year for her new release Weave.

The list of the best local musicians for this year has been revealed

Hailey Baldwin: I don't understand Taylor Swift's squad

Hailey Baldwin has taken a quick stab at Taylor Swift and co.

Taylor Lautner 'spotted smooching co-star'

Taylor Lautner has been romantically linked to Billie Lourd

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!