The ocean off Western Australia was the scene of a harrowing encounter, as an unidentified man climbed aboard a deceased whale, while tiger and great white sharks attracted by a free meal circled the area.
The dead humpback whale had drawn the attention of several boaters, as WAToday points out, while curious onlookers gathered to watch the sharks feed. Tony Capelutti, of the Department of Fisheries Shark Response Unit, related that there had been a number of shark sightings throughout the day, prompting warnings to boaters. As the Inquisitr has previously noted, Western Australia is home to several species of large sharks, including great whites.
"Around lunchtime one of the reports stated that four tiger sharks and a white shark were feeding on the carcass of a humpback whale four nautical miles east of Rottnest," he said.
Spectators were caught off guard when a man suddenly jumped from his boat, swimming through the shark-infested waters to reach the dead whale. Once he made it to the carcass, the shirtless man climbed atop the whale.
"We are assuming that when he did that the sharks were still in the vicinity," Capelutti pointed out.
Man climbs onto whale carcass as feeding sharks circle off West Australian coast http://t.co/LyTerZSITA via @ABCNews pic.twitter.com/65yQeBypzc
— Lyndsay Farlow (@LyndsayFarlow) November 1, 2014
Crew on the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter were able to capture photographs of several large sharks feeding on the carcass, according to Perth Now. Another helicopter, operated by 9 News, also captured footage of a massive white shark, measuring 5.5 meters, as it circled a 7-meter-long boat close to the whale. It is unclear whether those photos were taken before or after the man jumped into the water.
While a Department of Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman noted that the 12-meter-long carcass was expected to remain away from shore due to prevailing winds, Cappelluti described the unknown man's behavior as irresponsible, according to the West Australian.
"If sharks were feeding on that whale carcass when he swam over then that type of behaviour is highly risky," he pointed out. "It potentially could have had some critical consequences, not only for the person but also for the witnesses and other people that would have had to assist."
The man sat atop the whale for a short time before people on a nearby vessel alerted him to sharks in the water, returning him to his own boat.
[Images: 7 News and 9 News, via Perth Now]