Sperm whales stranded on Western Australia reef
25th September 2003
The Sydney Morning Herald
Nine huge sperm whales - all badly slashed - have become stranded near a reef on Western Australia's rugged southern coast, with at least six of them dead but the others apparently unable to be put down.
But wildlife officers say the marine mammals, which are up to 10 metres long, cannot be rescued or removed.
A fisherman passing by Doubtful Island Bay, near the townsite of Bremer Bay, spotted the whales about 9.30am (WST) today, stranded in shallow water between a reef and the shore.
The whales could not be rescued or recovered because of their weight - about 20 tonnes each - and because of the danger of predators such as sharks, which could come in to feed, wildlife officers said today.
Nor could they be put down, with officers saying it is too difficult.
"Sperm whales are extremely difficult to euthanase, even with a high-powered rifle," said David Mell from the WA Conservation and Land Management department (CALM).
Mr Mell said waters of the Southern Ocean around Bremer Bay, 520 km south-east of Perth, were a known habitat for large sharks, including white pointers.
"As the animals have been washed over the reef, they are severely lacerated," Mr Mell said.
"Consequently, this is likely to attract predators such as sharks, making any rescue attempt exceedingly dangerous."
The fictional Moby Dick was a Sperm whale, which were once were greatly prized by whalers because of the high quality of the oil they produced.