A 12 metre, 18 tonne adult humpback whale rescued after being entangled in fishing rope off Shelly Beach on Sunday, September 17 has died.

The whale struggled throughout the night to return out to sea after being freed but died and washed close to shore at Nobbys Beach on Monday morning.

Marine Rescue Port Macquarie and an ORRCA Marine Mammal and Rescue crew with the assistance of National Parks and Wildlife and police closed off Nobbys Beach to co-ordinate a tow out to sea operation.

With an outgoing tide and increasingly dangerous surf conditions, the tow out to sea plan was abandoned.

Marine Rescue Port Macquarie’s Geoff Shelton said it is likely chainsaws will be used to make the removal of the carcass more manageable and the whale will be taken away and disposed of.

“We have made two attempts to tow it off the beach and both times the rope has broken,” Mr Shelton said.

“The whale weighs 18 tonne and it’s nearly low tide. The option (to tow out to sea) is no longer available with dropping tide and dangerous surf conditions.”

Port Macquarie Lifeguards have closed all beaches from Town Beach to Lighthouse Beach as a number of large sharks have been spotted offshore triggering the shark detector.

The whale was found 200 metres off Shelly Beach on Sunday in distress with a 4.5 metre great white shark circling.

Volunteers from Marine Rescue Port Macquarie transported a team from NPWS to provide assistance.

Members of the Large Whale Disentanglement Team based at Port Macquarie removed a knot of rope from the whale’s pectoral fin.

Mr Shelton feared the exhausted whale could beach itself.

He said while attempting to cut the ropes a large shark circled the whale making the rescue more perilous.

The whale was freed from the rope at about 2.15pm but continued to struggle in shallow waters.