A JUVENILE humpback whale that has been beached on the NSW mid north coast for more than a day has been euthanised after its condition worsened.
“It’s been a very, very difficult afternoon for everybody involved,” marine rescue organisation ORRCA vice president Shona Lorigan said from Sawtell Beach, south of Coffs Harbour.
Ms Lorigan confirmed the young whale, weighing about 10 tonnes, was put down about 1pm.
“Mother nature’s not helped us today, the waves are getting bigger as I watch,” Ms Lorigan said.
She said experts had been monitoring the whale overnight and saw its health deteriorating.
“We really had to think of the welfare of the whale and we didn’t want it to suffer any longer,” she said.
The yearling whale was likely making its first migration from Antarctica to Queensland after being weaned, she said.
“If an animal is in poor health or if it’s weaker then the time it will get into trouble is when it’s making that huge journey.”
The “really tough decision” was made to euthanise the whale, a spokeswoman from the Office of Environment and Heritage said.
She said a large group of marine mammal experts have assessed the situation and made the call after rough sea conditions hindered rescue attempts.
Arrangements are being made for the whale to be taken off the beach and buried.
The whale was being monitored by wildlife experts from NPWS, marine mammal rescue group ORRCA, Gold Coast SeaWorld and Dolphin Marine Magic at Coffs Harbour.
As a subadult it may be the first time this humpback has made the migration northward, and there have been some big seas, the NPWS said.
It said up to 30,000 whales were estimated to be migrating north this season.