The carcass of the young humpback is believed to weigh at least 10 tonnes. (Facebook: Damian Woods)
A whale carcass that washed up near a popular South Australian fishing spot could become a magnet for great white sharks unless it is removed soon.
Marine authorities are trying to work out how to remove the dead whale, believed to be a young humpback, which is wedged into sand at Frenchman Bluff about 60 kilometres from Port Lincoln.
“For that species to be washing up down here, you’d think that animal would have to have been sick for a period of time,” marine parks regional coordinator Dirk Holman said.
“He was well off track. We don’t see many humpbacks down this far south in close.”
The whale washed up some time before Friday night and is believed to weigh at least 10 tonnes.
The corpse shows signs of injury and “looks like it’s been harassed by sharks for a while”.
Mr Holman said its body needed to be removed because it was close to Farm Beach, which is popular with recreational and professional fishers.
“We’ve got to reduce the risk to ocean users because obviously whales are going to attract predators, so we don’t want a whale on the beach attracting white sharks,” he said.
“I’d strongly advise against swimming in the area until we’ve had a chance to get rid of the body.”
The lower Eyre Peninsula and Great Australian Bight are well-known shark zones, with charter companies offering shark cage diving off Port Lincoln.
Carcass could be towed out to sea
The carcass was discovered by local Damian Woods during a fishing trip to the beach on Friday.
“I thought it was alive to start with because the waves were washing down its tail,” he said.
“I clambered down the cliffs.”
He said it looked as if it had been dead for a few days.
“There were a few seagulls hanging around but no bigger birds,” he said.
Mr Holman said the whale could not be buried on site because of the potential for it to create a slick “for years to come”.
“We’ll be looking at a range of options as to what we do with the carcass,” Mr Holman said.
“Our other options would be either removing it if we can with either earth moving equipment — it depends how accessible it is — or towing it out to sea.
“Or, if we have to, cutting it up and removing it piece by piece.”