Mum and baby whale beached by big seas

TWO rare whales were washed up on the beach at Kioloa last week amid heavy seas.

The mother and calf Grey’s Beaked Whales washed ashore at Kioloa’s Racecourse Beach on Thursday, allowing the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to collect important scientific samples.

NPWS Wildlife Officer Mike Jarman said it was sad to see the mother and calf lying side by side on the beach.

He said the pair appeared to have died before washing ashore but further investigation was being conducted.

“We will be interested to see the results of the analyses because typically it’s difficult to determine the cause of death in these whales,” Mr Jarman said.

“But they appear to have died during the big seas created by tropical cyclone Oswald.

“The mother is about five metres long and the female calf was not yet weaned. There was some evidence to suggest the calf may have drowned.”

Shoalhaven City Council has buried the remains and NPWS has taken a GPS reference of the site in case skeletal material needs to be exhumed in the future.

“Because this is such a rarely seen species, the Australian Museum requested skeletal samples be taken for study and preservation, including the skulls which are critical for species identification,” Mr Jarman said.

“Parks enlisted the specialist skills of a local veterinarian, Justin Clarke, who helped us collect samples. This is a challenging but important job.”

Seeing stranded or dead marine mammals might be distressing for members of the public but the NPWS said as whale populations recovered from periods of over hunting more would be seen washed up on beaches.

SAD SIGHT: Veterinarian Justin Clarke examines the beaked whale calf washed up on the beach at Kioloa last week. Photo: MIKE JARMAN.

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