Australia (7/31/2001)

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  • Date: 31-Jul-2001
  • Location: Off the coast of Kangaroo Island, Australia
  • Species: Southern Right whale
  • Category: Sea-based carcass disposal/removal

In late July 2001, the carcass of a dead Southern Right whale floating off the coast of Southern Australia attracted both sharks and sightseeing boaters. With boaters climbing onto the carcass and great white sharks tearing at its flesh, frustrated officials devised a plan to use explosives to blow apart the carcass, hoping it might sink or at least expedite the natural process of decomposition.

The first article talks about what was happening around the whale carcass. The second article describes the actions taken by state police to blow up the whale. A few additional short articles are also included.

Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK

Shark frenzy tourists madden minister

An Australian state minister says he is considering new laws to protect “people too stupid to protect themselves” after tourists were filmed touching great white sharks feeding on a whale carcass.


Video showed tourists patting about a dozen sharks.

Boatloads surrounded a dead southern right whale off the coast near Adelaide to watch about a dozen great white sharks tearing into the animal’s flesh.

Television pictures showed people patting the frenzied killer sharks on the head – an Australian woman’s voice can be heard exclaiming: “Harry are you an idiot or what?”


One slip and he’s a dinner.


Minister wants to ban this kind of thing.


The whale is thought to have died from natural causes.

One man clambered onto the dead whale’s back to pose for a souvenir photograph.

Angry minister

But South Australian state Environment Minister Iain Evans said he was shocked at the tourist’s disregard for their own safety.

“These creatures are not toys,” he said angrily.

“It is clear the state government will need to look at changing the law in order to protect people too stupid to protect themselves,” he added.

Australian environmental protection laws ban people from approaching within 100 metres of a live whale. Mr Evans said he would now look at exclusion zones for dead whales too.

Dangerous waters

Australian waters were the most dangerous in the world for shark attacks last year when global figures rose to a record high.

There were 10 fatal attacks worldwide in 2000, including three in Australian waters after great white shark attacks.

The deaths of three other people in Australia are also strongly believed to have resulted from shark attacks, but their remains were either never found or had been in the water too long to tell if they were eaten before or after they died.

Some experts blame overfishing in Australian waters for the increase in attacks because they say sharks are forced to hunt closer to shore.

© 2001 BBC


Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK

Explosive end to shark ‘attraction’

Australian police have detonated explosives in the rotting carcass of a whale that had become a dangerous tourist attraction.

Television pictures last week showed great white sharks feeding on the dead southern right whale south of Adelaide – as sightseers in boats patted their snouts and even climbed onto the back of the whale.

Horrified local politicians went as far as suggesting new laws “to protect people too stupid to protect themselves”.

South Australia state police said they had placed three small explosive charges in the whale’s belly to blow a hole in it and speed up the decomposition process.


The dead whale provoked a feeding and tourist frenzy.

The whale was then towed away from shipping lanes off the coast of Adelaide and the charges detonated.

“It was entirely successful,” a police spokeswoman told Reuters news agency. “It no longer presents a problem.”

State government spokesman Arndrae Luks said: “It will give marine scavengers a better chance of doing what they do best, which is to clean up dead and decaying material in the ocean.”

Marine authorities have said it appeared the whale died of natural causes.

World’s most dangerous

Australian waters were the most dangerous in the world for shark attacks in 2000 when global figures rose to a record high.

There were 10 fatal shark attacks worldwide including three in Australian waters from great whites.

The deaths of three other people in Australia are also strongly believed to have resulted from shark attacks, but their remains were either never found or had been in the water too long to tell if they were eaten before or after they died.

Some experts blame overfishing in Australian waters for the increase in attacks. They say it forces sharks to hunt closer to shore.

© 2001 BBC


Tuesday July 31 2:12 AM ET

Australia Police Blow Up Whale of a Problem

ADELAIDE, Australia (Reuters) – Australian police have blown a hole in the rotting body of a whale that had become a troublesome attraction for tourists watching sharks feed on its massive carcass.

Television pictures were beamed around the world last week of great white sharks tearing chunks of flesh from the dead Southern Right whale while sightseers in boats patted the sharks’ snouts and even climbed onto the back of the whale as the sharks fed.

Officials were aghast and even considered imposing new laws ”to protect people too stupid to protect themselves.”

South Australia state police and transport officials said on Tuesday they had placed three small explosive charges in the whale’s belly late on Monday to blow a hole in it and hasten its decomposition.

The whale was then towed away from shipping lanes off the coast of Adelaide and the charges detonated.

“It was entirely successful,” a police spokeswoman told Reuters. “It no longer presents a problem.”

After last week’s feeding and tourist frenzy, the whale was towed and then anchored off Kangaroo Island, about 60 miles southwest of Adelaide.

On one occasion last week, a man was filmed standing on the whale’s back as the sharks tore into it just meters away. Local media reported that another man carried a small child with him onto the whale.

Marine authorities have said it appeared the whale died of natural causes.


Tuesday July 31 6:52 AM ET

Aussie Police Blow Up Dead Whale

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) – Explosive experts gave sharks and other scavengers a helping hand by blowing up the carcass of a whale to speed up disposal of the body.

Police detonated three small charges in the carcass of a Southern Right whale because of concerns it was an environmental hazard. The explosion late Monday left a large tear in the carcass which will make it easier for sharks to rip up and eat, officials said Tuesday.

“It will give marine scavengers a better chance of doing what they do best, which is to clean up dead and decaying material in the ocean,” government spokesman Arndrae Luks said.

The carcass, which has been off South Australia state’s coast for about two weeks, had become a tourist attraction, with people hiring boats to watch sharks feed on it. Tourism authorities said some sightseers clambered on the whale and patted great white sharks eating the carcass.

The whale was believed to have died of natural causes.



Bomb squad to blow up dead whale ‘shark attraction’

A dead Southern Right whale which has become an attraction for tourists wanting to see great white sharks feed is being towed out to sea to be blown up.

People have hired boats to watch the sharks bite into the Southern Right whale carcass – some have even clambered onto the carcass with children.

Last week, the carcass was towed and anchored near Kangaroo Island after concerns were raised about being deemed to be an environmental hazard.

Today, Transport SA enlisted the police bomb squad’s help to finally sink the carcass..

Transport SA spokesman Arndrae Luks said it was feared the whale carcass would become a hazard to shipping or pleasure craft and also pose an environmental hazard.

“The carcass could take a number of months to decompose and if allowed to remain could wash up on a public beach, presenting an environmental hazard,” Mr Luks said today.

“This presents an unacceptable risk to public safety.

“Advice from environmental authorities and the police is that we may be able to open up the carcass using a small charge, which we hope will cause it to sink or at least speed up its decomposition – allowing sharks and other marine creatures to dispose of it in the natural way.”

Police bomb experts would place the charges on the carcass before it was towed into the Southern Ocean, about four nautical miles from where it had been anchored, Mr Luks said.

He said an air and sea exclusion zone had been declared around the explosion site in the interests of public safety.

AAP