One of Sydney's northern beaches will be closed for at least a week amid fears the carcass of a dead sperm whale will attract more sharks.
More than a dozen rangers armed with chain saws, butcher's knives and knife sharpeners will be hacking the 10m whale's carcass into one-metre chunks tomorrow at Newport Beach.
They will then remove the whale parts from the rock platform where it beached sometime yesterday morning, said Geoff Ross of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
"There's a lot of oil and blood washing out to sea and that will attract sharks," said Mr Ross.
The decomposed carcass is believed to weigh up to 12 tonnes.
"We'll be using a combination of ... standard butcher's knives. We do have a couple of Flensing knives - the knives that you use for dismembering large mammals like whales - and chain saws as well," he said.
"The aim is to reduce the carcass to transportable sizes ... a piece is about a metre in size, about a tonne in weight, which can be lifted by an excavator and placed on the back of a truck."
The 12 to 15 rangers involved in the operation will wear protective eye gear and be clothed from head to toe in safety clothes, he added.
The whale chunks will then be taken to a waste management centre.
NPWS rangers have so far removed the lower jaw of the adult sperm whale and given it to the Australian Museum for scientific purposes.
Only 25 sperm whales have washed up on NSW shores since 1989, Mr Ross said. Beachings of the species are more common in Tasmania and New Zealand.
The gender of the whale has yet to be determined because sharks have eaten its reproductive organs, but it could have been be a middle-aged female using a feeding area off Sydney.
"Unlike the humpbacks, sperm whales don't tend to migrate. They tend to hang around in feeding areas off the continental shelf in the very deep areas in places where often there are sea mounts and there is a place called Browns Mountain about 14 kilometres offshore ... from Sydney ... which is a known feeding site for sperm whales," Mr Ross said.
"It's usually females and female calf pods that hang out in those locations."
The cause of the sperm whale's death is not known, although Mr Ross said this was fairly common.
"Even when we do a specialist necropsy and really do a piece at a time, it's rare to actually find out the cause of death. You can usually find out from associations - bacterial infections or things like that."
But Mr Ross said it was possible that the sperm whale could have died of natural causes, as there was no evidence on the carcess that it had been hit by a boat.
There are about 200,000 sperm whales worldwide, but it is not known how many of them are found off NSW shores.
A National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) spokeswoman encouraged people to stay away from the area while the dismembering operation was being conducted.
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