A ROTTING five-metre long whale carcass washed up on the shore may be the only chance Sunshine Coast beachgoers get to see a rarely seen species close-up.
The female Cuvier's beaked whale washed up on Wurtulla beach yesterday morning, leaving beach walkers puzzled as to exactly what sort of sea creature it might be, with its resemblance to both a dolphin and a whale.
"I've worked on whale watching boats and I've never seen anything like this before," Jess Juster said.
Sally Birch swapped her morning walk from Point Cartwright to Wurtulla to see the whale for herself.
"It's really sad to see it like this, the poor thing," Ms Birch said.
"It's just unbelievable. Look at its head. It almost looks like a dolphin."
University of the Sunshine Coast's Dr Celine Frene said Cuvier's beaked whales were not uncommon in Australia and throughout the world, but they swam in deep ocean.
She said it was rare to see the whale up close, in shallow waters.
"I've never even seen one," Dr Frene said.
"They are out there on the Sunshine Coast. People have just never seen them before."
Just a few days ago, on October 15, another Cuvier's beaked whale washed up on the shores of northern Sydney.
Environmental Protection Agency is yet to determine how the Wurtulla whale died.
A spokesman said the whale had been moved behind the dunes and Queensland Museum staff would arrive today to formally identify the species.
The whale will be used for research purposes.
"Members of the public are asked to avoid touching the carcass," the spokesman said.