Australia: Beached sperm whale near Perth 'unlikely to survive', authorities say

The whale has attracted huge crowds in recent days. Credit: Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia

A beached sperm whale that has attracted hundreds of people to a park in Western Australia is "unlikely to survive" with authorities working to ensure it doesn't experience "prolonged suffering".

Members of the public have been unable to enter the Rockingham Naval Memorial Park Beach since Sunday, after the whale beached itself about 50-70 metres offshore.

The whale - which is more than 15 metres long and weighs 30 plus tonnes - had caught the attention of summertime beachgoers at the park just south of Perth, with many people swimming out to get a view of the animal.

Its sheer weight and size has made any plan to move it from the sandbank it is resting on nearly impossible.

A cordon has been placed around the whale. Credit: Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia

Park workers and vets have warned the animal is not in good health, and that they are currently waiting to see if it can lift itself from its resting place.

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions incident manager Mark Cugley said: "If it is resting, whether it could actually get off the sandbar I'm not sure, but I would suggest over the last two, two-and-a-half days it's probably been looking for somewhere to come and rest up."

Science coordinator Kelly Waples told local reports the whale is "not in good condition it's in a place it doesn't belong and now that it is sitting on the sand floor that is even a worse situation".

She added the animal is usually supported by the seawater, but that, due to it resting on the sand, the compression caused by its immense weight could damage its internal organs.

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When asked if it may need to be euthanised, she said "it's currently a watch and weight situation", but later added it was "very unlikely" the whale would survive.

In a Facebook post, Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia said: "Our priority is the whale's welfare and to avoid prolonging its suffering.

"Together, DBCA and Perth Zoo staff are carefully considering and planning an appropriate course of action to ensure the most humane outcome for the whale."

Sperm whales are deep-sea mammals, which are rarely seen close to shore and range across the Earth's oceans.

They are amongst the largest animals on the planet and can live for up to 70 years.