One of the State's foremost whale experts has warned of an increased frequency in the number of whale stranding events along WA's coastline.

Department of Environment and Conservation senior wildlife officer Doug Coughran said the recovering whale population was being linked to a rise in the number of the animals found washed up on local beaches.

Mr Coughran, who was last year appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for his work in whale research, said stranding events had "spiked" in the past three years and expected the trend to continue.

Speaking at a conference to mark the start of the annual humpback whale migration along WA's coast, Mr Coughran said the trend was not necessarily cause for concern.

He said that while the number of whales being found dead or stranded on beaches was increasing, the phenomenon might be testimony to the recovering nature of whale stocks.

It comes amid estimations the humpback whale population migrating of WA's coast has reached about 30,000 after falling to a low of just 500 before a commercial hunting ban on the animals was introduced in 1963.

"It's a natural process that can also indicate a healthy population," Mr Coughran said.

State Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the Government reserved the right to euthanize the animals if they became stranded.

He defended the practice as humane, saying it was sometimes the only way to stop the massive creatures suffering.

"Humpback whales make the 13,000km round-trip from Antarctica to warmer waters in WA's north between May and December each year, making it one of the longest migrations of any mammal on Earth," Mr Marmion said.

"(Whale mortality) is a natural process and even though many of the whales will die at sea, some will come ashore so the department needs to be prepared to ensure that animals do not suffer.

"Often euthanasia is the only viable option, particularly for large whales, and it is always carried out humanely and under strict safety guidelines with methods that are accepted by the International Whaling Commission."

Authorities have urged anyone who sees an injured, entangled or beached whale to contact the department's Wildlife Helpline on 9474 9055 or visit its website.

They have also warned people to remain a safe distance from stranded whales, saying they can weight up to 40 tonnes and pose a risk to safety.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West