A dead whale that washed up on rocks in the south coast hamlet of Tathra, attracting curious onlookers and inquisitive sharks, has been trucked to one of the shire's waste facilities.
Council staff, in conjunction with National Parks and Wildlife Service, DPI Fisheries and the Police were all involved in the retrieval operation after the whale carcass was found on rocks near Tathra Wharf on Monday morning, August 26.
The operation met challenges in several circling sharks looking for an easy feed, and numerous spectators, photographers and drone flyers watching the process unfold.
On Tuesday, the whale was towed to the beach and winched ashore before being lifted on to the back of a truck.
In a statement to the media and public, council said "the deceased whale beached at Tathra yesterday has been successfully extracted, thanks to the combined efforts of NSW government agencies and council, and will be disposed of at a licensed waste facility".
There were numerous calls for the carcass to be either left where it was or towed out to open water so "nature could take its course".
However, it seems there is plenty of bureaucracy red tape in gaining approval for such a move.
Photographer David Rogers, who has been keeping a close eye on proceedings since the start, said "Everyone involved here today had the utmost respect for the whale and wanted to take it out to sea for a dignified ending, however were limited by legislation or safety concerns".
Council said it received advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Service that NSW and Commonwealth governments do not support disposal of dead whales at sea.
"Specific approval is required to dispose of whales in Commonwealth waters. Disposal in NSW waters would bring sharks feeding on the carcass into the path of migrating whales, preventing a risk to calves and weak adult whales," council told Australian Community Media in response to questions about the disposal.
"Leaving the whale to decompose in near-shore waters would have presented a risk to swimmers. This risk would potentially extend beyond the time frame for the whale to decay or be consumed, as sharks may become attracted to the area
"Council urges people to stay out of the water until sharks have had time to disperse. The wharf will reopen later today, but the beach will remain closed to swimmers until at least Thursday."