Call to remove whale carcasses

A decomposing whale carcass which washed up at Wyadup three weeks ago has caused safety concerns in the community.

A whale carcass has washed up on the rocks at Wyadup, near Canal Rocks (top left) in Yallingup. Photo by Ian Wiese.

A whale carcass has washed up on the rocks at Wyadup, near Canal Rocks (top left) in Yallingup. Photo by Ian Wiese.

The carcass has attracted increased shark activity in the Canal Rocks area since it washed up on the rocks with both divers and kayakers having close interactions.

Since commercial whaling was banned in WA, more whales migrate pass the Capes coastline each year.

Around 34,000 humpback whales go through Geographe Bay on their way to Antarctica, making the region host to one of the largest population of humpbacks in the world.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said given we were seeing more whale carcasses wash up on the coastline it was imperative there was an effective policy to manage this issue.

Ms Mettam said utilising local resources such as fishermen with experience and knowledge would be well placed to promptly remove whale carcasses, which act as a bait that attracts sharks closer to shore.

“This policy doesn’t have to be complicated, just simply ustiling our local resources,” she said.

“Whilst the safety of ocean users is critical, the closure of beaches for extended periods is not the answer given the impact to small business and for tourism. 

“I have recently written to the Minister asking that he address this as a matter of urgency, following a number of calls from ocean users and small businesses who are increasingly concerned with this issue.”

Yallingup surfer Garth Mullumby said whale carcasses should be removed as soon as possible when weather and swell conditions permitted so sharks were not attracted into an area.

He said decaying carcasses could could cause a health risk and potentially spread disease he would rather not be exposed to.

City of Busselton director of engineering and work services Oliver Darby said introducing a policy to remove whale carcasses may have limited benefits in situations where the removal was not feasible.

“These are very large animals that can weigh in excess of a tonne,” he said. 

“The feasibility of removal depends on several factors including the size and weight of the carcass, its overall state of decay and of course where it has come to rest.”

Currently, the city work with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction to remove a whale carcass washed onto municipal coastline if the carcass was accessible and in a condition that removal was actually possible.

“The city will also consider whether the carcass is a safety hazard and has significant negative impact on beach users,” he said.