A mother and calf whale were reported as stranded at the southern end of Norman Bay at Wilsons Promontory National Park last Wednesday around 5.30pm. The whales are thought to be Pygmy Sperm Whales.
An incident management team was set up and a team of cetacean rescue experts stayed onsite to monitor the whales overnight. This morning a vet, specialising in cetaceans, checked the whales condition. Both whales were thought to be in a suitable condition to attempt a return to the water.
The Cetacean stranding team supported by Parks Victoria and DELWP staff carried the whales, utilising slings, back into the water. Unfortunately, the mother was not strong enough to swim out to sea and was badly injured being pushed onto the rocks. The team brought her back to the beach where she was further assessed by a specialist vet on site in consultation with vets from Zoos Victoria. Euthanasia was deemed the only humane option due to her poor condition. The whale was then sedated and euthanized by injection. The calf swam out to sea and local staff will monitor the beach in coming days to see if it returns to the beach.
The whale will undergo a necropsy (an animal autopsy) by Zoos Victoria and the University of Melbourne to assist in further research of the species. The whale skeleton will be retained by the Museum of Victoria where it can be used to assist in education.
The cetacean rescue team are always ready to respond across the state to assist in these often difficult situations involving large animals outside their usual environment. Everyone did everything they could to get both the whales back out sea together but unfortunately that wasn’t possible this time.