A juvenile humpback whale beached itself in Australia on Wednesday, and the unfortunate animal was attacked and killed by a shark before rescuers could save it.
The whale was spotted early in the day at South Broulee beach, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. A young humpback, it had become stranded among the rocks, and beachgoers noted that it appeared to be struggling with an injured fin. Local lifeguards, along with ORRCA – Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Australia – and the Marine Park Authority attempted to organize a rescue, according to Perth Now, but the whale washed back into the sea before they were prepared.
“Twenty minutes later a massive shark came in and just took half of it,” Far South Coast surf lifesaving director Andrew Edmunds observed.
The beach was closed for the rest of the day, and the Westpac Lifesaver 3 helicopter was dispatched at about 3 p.m., after reports that a school of sharks was feeding on the whale carcass. Within the hour, it returned to base, having spotted two large sharks.
Two 3.5 metre sharks sighted off Sth Broulee Beach by Lifesaver 3. Beaches closed nearby, no swimmers in danger. pic.twitter.com/8FMiisaV16
— Westpac Life Saver (@Lifesaverhelo) January 7, 2015
It was unclear what species of shark killed the whale, though more than 200 people had gathered on the rocks to witness the rescue. The humpback was confirmed to be a juvenile by a spokesman from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“They grow very quickly from birth [3m] to 8-10m within about two years,” he said. “This one looks in very poor condition which is very likely the reason it beached. The sharks are just doing what sharks do. They are sometimes called the garbage men of the sea – they help keep the oceans clean by consuming carcasses of dead animals.”
— Chris Brown (@bluecology) January 7, 2015
Last year, the carcass of an adult humpback whale was found floating off Western Australia by boaters. A number of large sharks, including great whites and tigers, were drawn to the area to feed. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the situation garnered international attention when one of the boaters plunged into the water and swam to the humpback, climbing atop the whale to observe the sharks.
[Images: Alex Coppel via Perth Now]