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The National Parks and Wildlife Service says there is no immediate danger to people who enter the water near this rotting humpback whale carcass on the back beach at Angourie. “Look at this, Just pumping out 24/7 of whale oil … you wouldn’t catch me dead surfing around here,” says Will Webber (pictured). Image: Geoff Helisma

OEH: Rotting whale carcass no threat to surfers

Geoff Helisma | A humpback whale carcass that has been decomposing on the back beach at Angourie is no threat to surfers who enter the water in the vicinity, according to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH). Angourie surfer and surfboard manufacturer Will Webber last week posted a short video of the carcass, which was lying in the outfall of Mara Creek, on his Facebook page. Mara Creek is in Yuragir National Park. Upon learning about the carcass, the Independent made an enquiry to the OEH public affairs section, pointing out that “precedents have been set following the removal of a whale carcass at South Ballina by NPWS in October last year”, and that “there have been several [shark encounters/attacks] in the immediate and nearby vicinity over recent years”. According to a National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) spokesperson, the short emailed response stated: “The carcass has been naturally decomposing since it washed ashore more than eight months ago. “The Department of Primary Industries, which monitors sharks along the coast, has not reported any increase in shark activity associated with this natural process.” There was no response to the Independent’s assertion that “surfers are justifiably feeling that their safety is being compromised due to lack of action by NPWS to remove the carcass”. Nor was there a response to this question: “What duty of care does NPWS have if an attack were to occur?” Meanwhile, the OEH has not yet completed its Review into the management of deceased whales report, which was commissioned “in response to growing public concern that whale carcasses buried on beaches attract sharks and negatively impact the local environment” and was due to be completed by late 2017 or early 2018. “Under current practices, whale carcasses may be left in-situ, buried, or transported to landfill or specified grave sites depending on the whale’s size, state of decomposition and location,” the OEH’s webpage on the issue states. “As whale numbers increase, it is likely land managers will need to deal with whale carcasses more regularly.” The NPWS spokesperson advised that “Review into management of deceased whales is being finalised”.