Surfers tow dead whale out to sea to protect Angourie from Great White Sharks
A surfer on the New South Wales north coast says he used a boat's anchor to drag a "monster" dead whale 50 metres out to sea to protect board riders from great white sharks feeding on its carcass.
David Treloar said he received a phone call from Laurie Towner on Monday morning that the 12-metre whale was floating offshore just north of Angourie.
"At the rate it was drifting it was going to drift onto Angourie Point. We decided that if it went onto the point it would be un-surfable for months," he said.
"That had happened before with sinew that had decayed and wrapped around the Point."
David said they decided to tow the carcass themselves because authorities have previously failed to remove whales which had washed up on local beaches.
"They don't seem to want to know anything about it. There's one on the back beach already. They never came and moved that one," he said.
A spokesman for the Office of Environment and Heritage said it was illegal for the public to touch a dead whale.
"Whale carcasses remain protected. People are advised not to touch dead or rotting carcasses," the spokesman said.
David said he, Laurie and two other friends used a small boat to drag the whale away from beachgoers.
"We chucked the sand anchor around the flutes of the tail because no-one was going to jump in and put a rope around the tail," he said.
"We only moved it 50 metres because it was a 16-foot boat with a 30-horsepower [engine] trying to move a five-tonne whale, but we actually moved it past the Point."
Laurie posted footage of the whale and a warning on social media advising surfers to stay out of the water.
Kelly Slater weighed-in on social media, disagreeing that the dead whale put surfers in danger.
"Probably safest time to surf. They know they want that whale blubber and not some skinny surfers!" the 11-time world champion said.
Marine authorities said they had no plans to dispose of the whale carcass at this stage.
Deputy unit commander for Marine Rescue Iluka-Yamba, Jeff Clout, said he would wait until the carcass was beached before making a decision.
"The decision has been made to stand down, allow the carcass to drift in and once it's beached then we'll deal with it and dispose of it humanely," Mr Clout said.
Last week, the Department of Primary Industries told the ABC it was working with two PhD students from Southern Cross University to track shark movements around dead whales.
Lead scientist Paul Butcher said the DPI is using drones to track shark behaviour to help determine the best way to dispose of dead whales once they wash ashore.
"The ultimate aim of both PhD studies — through the drone project and the whale burial project — is to provide some protocols and some answers to ongoing questions that the public and the Government have asked: do whale burials attract sharks?" Mr Butcher said.
David said he found the experience of moving the whale while it was surrounded by sharks adrenaline-inducing.
"I can right now still smell the dead whale on my hand from the anchor rope slipping through it, and it's a massive whale," he said.
"The shark activity was insane. I mean, when we first got there, I reckon one shark might have been eight feet long with its head out of the water chewing into it.
"It's a monster whale and it's going to take a long time for that to disintegrate."
A dead whale washed up at Angourie beach in September 2017 but it was not buried. Photo: Steve Axford.
//Gemma Sapwell, Hannah Ross and Sarah Maunder
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