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.

Rainbow club shines at Gold Coast regatta

Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club at the Gold Coast's Broadwater regatta.

Teams battled it out in blistering heat

FORECAST: Perfect storm for a lazy weekend

Rain is on the way on the Northern Rivers.

Much needed heat relief expected to continue

Regional fathers needed to fight against male suicide rates

Regional fathers are needed in the fight against male suicide rates.

If you're a father aged 28-32 take part in this widespread survey

Local Partners

Tower built, now the recruits are coming

SINCE the opening of the new Marine Rescue tower in Ballina in October last year, the volunteer organisation has had at least a dozen new recruits.

BIG RIDE: Matt to bring out smiles for Smiddy

LONG WAY ROUND: Matt Muir raises his bike in triumph on his ride last year.

Fundraiser at Yamba Shores Tavern ahead of 800km charity ride

Buddhism pioneer shares life's mission

Lama Ole Nydahl will be presenting a new documentary in Ballina.

About the first ever Western students of Buddhism in Nepal

Mr Grey is back, just fifty shades darker

SCREENING: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in a scene from the first trailer for the movie Fifty Shades Darker.

Advance screenings next week

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

TOWARD the end of last month’s Golden Globes ceremony, the producer of the nominated drama Moonlight made a surprise onstage appearance: Brad Pitt.

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Carson Kressley brings 'camp' to I'm a Celebrity jungle

"I am not all Park Avenue and daffodils” ... Carson Kressley.

Meet the "campest” campmate to star on I'm a Celebrity.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi mystery already solved

FILE- This undated file photo provided by Disney shows Daisey Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film, \"Star Wars: The Force Awakens.\" Hasbro said it is changing its Star Wars Monopoly set after an 8-year-old girl became upset that Rey, the movie's female heroine, was not included as a figure along with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. (Disney/Lucasfilm via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

A key mystery surrounding the title of episode eight has been solved

Kids' game "full of f**king paedophiles" according to dad

A mortified dad has expressed serious concerns over an online game

Lisa Marie Presley's ex caught with child pics: court

Lisa Marie Presley, at right, and her husband, Michael Lockwood back in 2010. FILE

Lisa Marie, 49, claimed she was left “sick to her stomach”

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

Clarence River island paradise selling for $5M

Former Ballina councillor Margaret Howes is selling her island getaway.

GALLERY: Tropical getaway with beaches and airstrip put on market.

What $11.9m can get you on Coast's most exclusive street

29-31 Wyuna Drive Noosaville Qld 4566

This is what a cool $11.9m can get you

How a first home buyer built house with no deposit

NEARLY THERE: Construction on the first house to home orphans at Umoja began in January.

Photo Contributed

His home will be completed later this year.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!