Whale’s slick draws sharks to beach

Albany Extra - - News - Shan­non Smith

The rot­ting car­cass of an enor­mous 23m fin whale, which has at­tracted sev­eral sharks to Cheynes Beach, has been taken to land­fill.

The whale, es­ti­mated to weigh 47 tonnes, washed up on the pop­u­lar beach late last week.

Af­ter be­ing rolled onto the beach by an ex­ca­va­tor, its mas­sive body was cut into pieces and loaded onto trucks to be taken to Ha­nara­han Road land­fill in Al­bany.

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment used the op­por­tu­nity to tag two white sharks which came close to shore as a blood and oil slick from the whale moved out to sea.

The sharks were 3.8m and 3.2m. DPIRD re­gional de­vel­op­ment ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions and com­pli­ance sus­tain­abil­ity and biose­cu­rity Bruno Mez­za­t­esta said it was a good op­por­tu­nity to tag the sharks.

“There are cur­rently no known breed­ing grounds or nurs­ery ar­eas for white sharks in WA, so the depart­ment’s tag­ging work is fo­cused on sit­u­a­tions where there is a higher chance of suc­cess,” he said.

“For now, the best tag­ging suc­cess in WA is ob­tained when sharks are nat­u­rally at­tracted to whale car­casses or school­ing fish, and these op­por­tu­ni­ties can vary greatly from year to year.”

The beach is ex­pected to re­main closed for a week. The de­com­pos­ing whale car­cass was re­moved from the beach­front.

Pic­tures: Matt and Rae­line Smith/RJS Pho­to­graphs

The oil slick left by the de­com­pos­ing whale car­cass at Cheynes Beach.

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