By Justin Flynn
Community backlash over the burial of a whale carcass at Collendina has prompted authorities to exhume and relocate the mammal.
A petition to remove the carcass attracted more than 2000 signatures.
The carcass was removed last Thursday by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
The humpback whale was washed ashore at 5W in a state of advanced decomposition and was buried at the beach by DELPW.
But fears of increased risk of shark activity prompted a backlash from the local community.
Several surfing events were cancelled and Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club cancelled its patrol season opener on Sunday because of the dead whale while 13th Beach Boardriders was also impacted.
DELWP consulted with partner agencies including Barwon Coast Committee, the City of Greater Geelong and Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club while planning the operation before removing the carcass.
An incident management team was deployed to safely remove and dispose of the remains.
Incident controller Barry James said the operation took 10 hours to complete.
Mr James said factors that required careful consideration included odour impacts, the operation of heavy machinery around a built up coastal area and management of the whale’s remains.
“This analysis, combined with feedback from the community, identified removal as the most suitable option,” Mr James said.
“Around 20 personnel from DELWP, Parks Victoria and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources supported today’s operation.
“The removal process involved exhuming the whale from the beach and transporting it to a transfer area near the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club’s beach access ramp.
“Additional sand was removed from the area to clear any remnants, and the beach reinstated.”
The carcass was dissected and transported along with the contaminated surrounding sand to landfill in Drysdale.
DEWLP discouraged beach goers from swimming between Point Lonsdale to Barwon Heads based on advice from Fisheries and Wildlife.
Until late last week, pieces of the whale carcass were still being sighted in the water.