Whales found 'shot in head' in Tonga

  • 29/05/2018
Locals call their deaths "terrible" and are seeking justice.
Locals call their deaths "terrible" and are seeking justice. Photo credit: Kolianita Feke / Yahoo7

The discovery of four washed-up dead whales has shocked Tonga after witnesses claimed all the whales had been shot in the head.

The bodies were found last week on a small island about an hour's boat ride from the capital of Nuku'alofa.

Photos show the carcasses washed up onto the beach and nearby rocks.

Prison officer Kolianita Feke told Yahoo7 he stumbled upon the whales' remains.

"Early in the morning we walked around the island and saw them, but they were already dead for a few days," Mr Feke said.

"They were shot with a gun. It looked like they had a hole near the head area, or near their mouth."

Macquarie University PhD researcher Vanessa Pirotta says the whales could be short-finned pilot whales, ranging from sub-adults to adults in length.

Whaling has been banned in Tonga since 1978, and their death has caused outrage.

One local called their deaths "upsetting" and "terrible", and others called for those responsible to be captured.