Tourists leap on whale carcass in Australia and pat feeding great white sharks
By Associated Press, 07/25/01
ADELAIDE, Australia -- Australia may change laws "to protect people too stupid to protect themselves" after sightseers clambered on a floating dead whale and patted great white sharks eating the carcass, a senior official said Tuesday.
South Australian state Environment Minister Iain Evans said he will ask his department to consider regulations preventing people from coming within 109 yards of a dead whale. At present, the law only keeps people that distance from a live whale.
Evans said he was shocked at the disrespect the tourists showed for their own safety when they were caught on film this week patting the sharks near Cape Jervis, 60 miles south of Adelaide.
"I am also appalled by the bizarre behavior of walking across the back of dead whales or, for that matter, patting a great white shark while it is feeding," Evans said.
"These creatures are not toys. In the case of the great white, they can be extremely dangerous and it is clear the state government will need to look at changing the law in order to protect people too stupid to protect themselves," he added.
The southern right whale died late last week. About a dozen sharks immediately began devouring the carcass, tearing off chunks of flesh in a feeding frenzy.
Boat operators cashed in, ferrying dozens of customers to the site for a closer look.