- Rare marine mammal has washed up on the central coast of NSW
- A photo posted online by Rod Owen has stumped social media users
- He said it looked like a ‘cross between a great white shark and an orca’
A bizarre-looking animal has washed up on an Australian beach, leaving observers bewildered about whether it is a whale, a shark – or even an alien.
Photographer Rod Owen of New South Wales posted a photo to Instagram of the strange-looking creature on Wednesday.
‘Does anyone know what this poor animal is that washed ashore recently in NSW?’ he said.
‘Looks like a cross between a great white shark and an orca with a big set of teeth.’
The strange-looking animal was found on a beach at Swansea Heads, about two hours north of Sydney
Mr Owen found the animal, which had cuts and wounds to its body, on a beach at Swansea Heads, about two hours north of Sydney.
He speculated it could have died in a shark net or as commercial fishing by-catch.
Social media users were puzzled by the animal, which has an asymmetrical nose and row of sharp teeth.
‘Sharp teeth? Crazy!!! Looks like an Alien,’ one person wrote.
‘That’s def a Killer Whale who loved Macdonalds too much [sic],’ another said.
Mammal expert Ronny Ling said the animal was most likely a dwarf sperm whale.
‘The species are the second or third most common to strand themselves in NSW,’ said Mr Ling, who is the president of Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA).
The relatively rare Dwarf Sperm Whale is related to the larger sperm whale (pictured, stock)
The species – which is related to the larger sperm whale – is found around Australia and can grow up to three metres in length. It feeds primarily on small fish, chiefly cuttlefish and squid.
‘When stressed, they release release a red or brown dye like an octopus,’ Mr Ling said.
Mr Ling said species was often mistaken for a shark due to the row of sharp teeth on its bottom jaw.
There are potentially fewer than 10,000 mature Dwarf Sperm Whales in Australian waters, although the species is not well surveyed, according to the Department of Environment and Energy.
To report all injured or distressed marine mammal call 02 9415 3333
In February this mysterious creature washed up on the shores of Lake Macquarie, NSW
Experts said it was most likely a pike eel, which are native to Australia’s east coast
The pike eel (pictured) can grow up to 1.8 metres in length
An extremely rare shark species, the goblin shark, was caught last year off the coast of New South Wales
A group of fishermen pulled a terrifying prehistoric shark, known as the frill shark, from the water near Lakes Entrance in Victoria’ last year