Avoid area for a while, marine biologist warns

Swimmers at risk from sharks attracted to dead whale at Sardinia Bay

Oils from the disintegrating whale carcass on the beach at Sardinia Bay could be seeping into the water and attracting sharks
CAUSING A STIR: Oils from the disintegrating whale carcass on the beach at Sardinia Bay could be seeping into the water and attracting sharks
Image: fredlin adriaan

A whale carcass at Sardinia Bay appears to have attracted shark activity and a marine biologist has suggested people refrain from swimming in the area for a while.

The carcass of the emaciated immature humpback stranded on the beach about a kilometre west of the Sardinia Bay car park last week, close to the surf line.

Marine biologist and regional stranding co-ordinator Dr Grey Hofmeyr examined it and found that it was tangled in long line — the fishing tackle sometimes several kilometres long used to suspend hundreds and sometimes thousands of snoods or short lines with baited hooks in the water.

The line had twined so tightly around the whale’s tail that it would not have been able to swim or hunt and it had probably starved to death, Hofmeyr said.

Reader Kevin Ulett said on Wednesday he had spotted a number of sharks in the water close to swimmers.

“They are being attracted to [Sardinia Bay] because of the whale carcass.

“I’d suggest the municipality does something about it because it could end very badly if someone swims too close to the whale.”

Kevin Ulett captured a photo of the silhouette of an animal which resembles a shark at Sardinia Bay
POSSIBLE THREAT: Kevin Ulett captured a photo of the silhouette of an animal which resembles a shark at Sardinia Bay
Image: Kevin Ulett

Hofmeyr said oils were likely to be leaching out of the carcass as it disintegrated and entering the surf and it was possible this was attracting sharks.

“It would not be easy to get heavy machinery down to the site to remove the carcass, and burying it would not solve the problem.

“I think it should just be left where it is, but perhaps a warning should be issued to people that they should not swim in the area for a while.”

The metro was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

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