Mystery death of humpback

Local fishermen found the humpback yesterday morning.
Local fishermen found the humpback yesterday morning.

A HUMPBACK whale has been found dead off the Gladstone coast.

Local fisherman reported the grisly find just off Farmers Point on Facing Island yesterday morning.

Gladstone angler Darryl Branthwaite said the whale appeared to have been dead for some time with decomposition already setting in.

“There are bite marks all over it and it looks like a lot of its jaw has been eaten away,” Mr Branthwaite said.

“The smell has just started to kick in, so I’d expect it to stink a whole lot more in the near future.

“The whale is about 10-12 metres long with lots of barnacles, however, it is hard to spot because it’s off the beaten track and looks like a large rock from a distance.”

Humpback whales breed inside the Great Barrier Reef on the East Coast and feed on krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans and various kinds of small fish.

They migrate close to the shore, and at the right times of the year can be easily seen as they travel past.

Humpback whales grow to about 15m, and 40 tonnes in weight.

The Department of Resource Management (DERM) went out to the dead humpback whale yesterday morning to try and determine what killed it.

A spokesperson for DERM said the humpback whale is sub-adult and quite decomposed.

“At this stage we don’t know the sex and we don’t at this stage know how it died,” the spokesperson said.

The whale-watching season has only just begun with the humpbacks generally taking about five months to travel from Antarctica to the warm waters of North Queensland to breed and give birth.

Humpbacks are known to have the longest annual migration of any mammal

About 11,000 whales usually make the trip with numbers increasing in recent years.

If people come across a whale which is stranding, they need to call DERM on 1300 130 372.

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