AN unfortunate spectacle became a massive tourist attraction on Monday as a constant stream of people took a close look at a humpback whale washed up on Seven Mile Beach near Shoalhaven Heads.
And authorities believe the giant of the deep may have sustained its fatal injuries in a collision with a boat. The humpback, which is about 12.5 metres long and weighs an estimated 25 tonne, was found early on Monday. When fully matured, a humpback whale grows to around 16 metres.
National Parks and Wildlife ranger Bruce Gray said that the whale appeared to have been floating adrift for up to a week before becoming beached.
“It's really hard to say why the animal died, it's a sub-adult male which we believe may have been struck by a boat,” Mr Gray said.
“There are marks along its body, but whether they are bite marks, or propeller marks it's very hard to tell”.
“However it does appear to have been damaged by something”.
“One of the pectoral fins is broken, probably from an impact with a big boat. The whale had already started to decay, so it's really hard to say,” Mr Gray said.
The NPWS contacted volunteers from the ORCA group and together they speculated about the whale's demise based on the physical injuries.
“ORCA, who have volunteers with expertise in various marine animals, have collected tissue samples and marine parasites from the whale”
“There is a central database run by NPWS and all these things are collated so hopefully over time we can put them together into a bigger picture,” Mr Gray said.
As for the fact that there was another dead whale washed into shore further down the coast Mr Gray said it might simply be that as numbers increase, so do their chances of colliding with boats.
The whale was buried behind the sand dune yesterday.