Sydney: A massive 18-tonne whale was removed from an Australian beach on Thursday, with authorities fearing the animal would soon explode.

At almost 13 metres long, the female humpback became stranded at the Big Hill Beach near Crescent Head, 430 km north of Sydney, late Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

With the animal beginning to "inflate", New South Wales State National Parks officers had to race against time to move the whale off the beach.

"They do bloat and they do blow up. It's a natural process when any marine creature is dead," Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia spokesperson Jools Farrell told local media.

With an exclusion zone set up around the beach, the officers used a crane to lift the creature and move it to a safe location.

Although it is not known why the animal became beached, experts believe it is likely the whale died of exhaustion during its long annual migration and then washed up on the sand.

Authorities have advised the people not to enter water around Big Hill for at least 48 hours due to a large number of shark sightings that may have been attracted by the whale.

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