THE SLEEPY seaside community of Boonooroo was left in disbelief on Monday after its first whale beaching in living memory.
A seriously injured baby humpback was found stranded in the shallows off Boonooroo Point by holiday-makers Dragi and Emma Majstorovic at 10am.
They tried to keep the whale’s exposed back cool and wet while they waited for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to arrive, but its condition deteriorated quickly.
“It had gashes all along its body and it was convulsing,” Ms Majstorovic said. “We thought it had been hit by a boat.”
But it wasn’t a boat propeller that caused so much trauma to the calf – it was most likely from a shark attack, said QPWS Great Sandy regional operations manager Peter Wright, who was with the whale when it died at 12.30pm.
“We had called a vet to come and assess it. However the whale died before a vet could arrive.
“There is no indication of cause of death. (There were) some shark bites on the calf.”
Mr Wright said it was unusual the calf managed to get into the Boonooroo area.
“This is the furthest south in the Strait that we are aware of a humpback stranding,” he said.
“There was no sign of the mother around – and it’s very rare that an adult humpback whale would be found in the maze of channels that make up the southern end of Great Sandy Strait.
“The calf probably was washed down by the tide from deeper waters in Hervey Bay.
“While this death is a sad occurrence, it’s a reminder that whale numbers are increasing. About 14,000 humpbacks migrate along the east coast, and we can expect to see more strandings if, as we hope, the humpback population continues to increase.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.