Whale and dolphin deaths a 'worrying mystery'
A WHALE researcher has described two Pygmy Sperm Whales and a dolphin washing up dead on Peregian Beach this morning as worrying.
However, Dr Michael Noad - a veterinary anatomist from University of Queensland who specialises in whale research - said the cause behind the deaths may never be known.
Dr Noad said he asked the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) for permission to undertake a necropsy - or post mortem analysis - of the whale and dolphin carcasses shortly after they were found by a beach goer this morning.
"It's not unusual for consent to be denied, it's more or less par for the course," Dr Noad said.
"Often National Parks and Wildlife (part of EHP) are just worried about a bad public reaction to having the necropsy take place on the beach.
"I'm always disappointed when they say just bury it because it is an unusual stranding and you've just missed the opportunity to learn something."
Dr Noad, whose parents own a Peregian Beach residence, went on to say the most unusual aspect of the beaching was the way two different species were involved.
"The distance between the two Pygmy Sperm Whales suggests they may have been dead before they washed ashore," he said.
He added that the likely cause of the large pink bruises on all three mammals was hitting sandbanks as they were washed onto the beach.
"I mean it could just be a coincidence but it's a very rare event and it's very odd and potentially worrying," he said.
"Pygmy Sperm Whales shouldn't really be within 30km of shore, as they are usually found off the continental shelf and we know almost nothing about them."
A spokesman from EHP said Coolum Coast Care and ORRCA Rescue and Research had taken samples from the animals, for analysis.
"In these cases, local councils have authority from EHP to dispose of the mammal carcasses and EHP understands Noosa Shire Council is arranging for the carcasses to be removed," the spokesman said.
EHP has been asked to explain why consent for a post-mortem was declined.
TWO Pygmy Sperm Whales and a dolphin have washed up dead on Peregian Beach.
The mammals were found by a beachgoer early this morning who rang Coolum District Coast Care.
The whales are believed to be a mother and a calf, with one measuring about two metres and the other about one metre.
The adult specimen is currently on the beach at the end of Pitta St and a small crowd has gathered to look.
The whale calf has been dragged into the dunes about 100m south of the Surf Life Saving flags, close to Peregian Surf Club.
A spokesman from National Parks and Wildlife Service said the cause of the deaths and whether or not they would be investigated was still being established.
Surf Lifesaving Queensland Sunshine Coast duty officer Peter Lucas said they had been on alert since they were notified by the Environment Protection Authority about the dead marine creatures.
"Their concern was that some of the oils leaching from the carcasses may attract sharks," Mr Lucas said.
"None of that eventuated so there was no danger to the bathing public or surf lifesaving volunteers."
Locals on scene were concerned at how unusual it was for three mammals to be found at the same time.
"We haven't seen anything like this for a year or so," one local said.
"When it's a mass death like this, it makes you wonder."
Last year thousands of fish washed up dead on the beach at Buddina. The cause was never revealed.
A MOTHER and baby pygmy whale and a baby dolphin have all washed up dead on the beach at Peregian.
Dr Michael Noad from UQ is currently looking for permission to necropsy the mother pygmy whale.
The marine stranding hotline has been notified.
A small crowd gathered with the mother pygmy sperm whale at Pitta Street, Peregian Beach.