Stranded 30-tonne sperm whale dies at WA beach

A stranded adult sperm whale weighing more than 30 tonnes has died after becoming stuck on a sandbar off a West Australian beach.

The massive mammal, about 15 metres long, was first spotted at Fremantle on Saturday, exhibiting concerning behaviour.

It reappeared on Sunday swimming in circles before beaching itself close to shore on Monday at Rockingham, in Perth's south, after being hit by a boat.

Authorities enforced a safety perimeter as hundreds of people gathered to see the whale, which was about 50 metres from the beach.

Marine mammal expert Kelly Waples said it was an unusual sight as sperm whales usually lived in deep water.

"It's never a good thing when you see a whale like this so close to shore," she told reporters.

Before it died the whale was distressed and thin and resting on the sand, with the weight of its body pressing down on its organs.

"Normally this is an animal that's supported fully by the seawater," Dr Waples said.

"That kind of compression is a very bad situation to be in and it reduces its health even further."

Veterinarians worked through Monday to assess the whale that was partially protruding from the water and in poor condition.

It was found to be breathing very slowly and suffering.

Staff from Perth Zoo and the Parks and Wildlife Service then devised a plan to humanely euthanise it.

Authorities continued to monitor the whale throughout the night, saying there was little they could do to help due to its size and weight.

The animal moved into deeper water in the early hours of Tuesday morning but was reported to have died several hours later after marine scientists observed it hadn't breathed for 45 minutes.

"It was moving pretty gingerly and swam only two or three hundred metres before it really seemed to stop its respiration and gave us some signs it really was coming to the end," Incident Controller Mark Cugley said.

"There was no external trauma or injuries or obvious disease ... but once we're able to completely remove the whale from this site we will see about undertaking a necropsy to understand more about its health."

Crews are maintaining a safety perimeter around the carcass and local Noongar Aboriginal groups will hold a ceremony for the dead whale

Authorities are working on a plan to move the carcass further away from the beach and remove it from the water.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store