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The quest for carcass leachate in beach groundwater 

Last week a barefoot team began investigating the leachate from whale carcase beach burials in collaboration with DPI colleagues with the view of assessing whether it may attract sharks to the surf.

We had to mobilise within 48 hours of hearing that a whale carcase had washed ashore at Broadwater Beach near Evans Head and was soon to be buried by NPWS. After the organisation of equipment the team travelled to the burial site and planned the work that would be done.

Groundwater samples were taken as a baseline for a follow up study. We faced some interesting challenges throughout the sampling work from the rich aroma of rotting whale to groundwater stained black by buried coffee rock. Samples were taken in transects running from north to south past the burial and in a straight line from the burial to the ocean.

The analysis of samples will provide an insight into the background levels of groundwater dissolved compounds prior to leachate plumes developing.