Dead whale stirs concerns over seismic activity

The dead whale which washed up at North Entrance

The Central Coast Dolphin Project has renewed its opposition to any further seismic testing off the coastline after a 4.5m dead adult whale washed ashore at North Entrance last week.

Spokesperson Ronny Ling said the dead animal, which was discovered on Thursday, was a member of the Beaked and Bottle-nosed whale family, believed to be a Blainville’s beaked whale.

“Beaked and Bottle-nosed whales have the appearance of large deformed dolphins,” Ling said.

“There are 21 species worldwide in this family ranging in size from 35m to 13m in length and they can weigh several tonnes.

“These whales usually inhabit the deeper waters off the continental shelf.

“They are the deepest diving of all whales and have been known to dive to depths of 4600m; they can hold their breath for almost an hour.

“Off the shelf, they use their echolocation (sonar) to primarily hunt for squid in the darkness.

“They will also hunt small fish like herring and pilchards.

“These whales are sometimes lone animals but have also been observed in pods up to around six.”

Ling said National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) had difficulty extracting the carcass, with recent erosion impacting the ability to use necessary machinery.

He said necropsy performed late on Friday by Taronga Zoo staff confirmed that the young whale had not eaten recently, its lungs were very congested, and it had an enlarged spleen.

“It is believed that the whale had been unwell for a few days,” he said.

“There were no signs of injury or vessel strike, no ingestion of plastic, no entanglement, and no gunshot wounds.”

Ling said whales were very sensitive to sound in the water and military sonar and seismic testing could have devastating effects on them.

“If PEP11 goes ahead, we could see more of these beautiful animals washing up on our shores,” he said.

Media release, Jun 28
Ronny Ling, Central Coast Dolphin Project

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