Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Fear of Predators Increases; Whale Disposal a Priority

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Fear of Predators Increases; Whale Disposal a Priority

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

A WHALE carcass washed ashore at Yaroomba quickly became a magnet for tiger sharks, raising serious questions about the management of future incidents.

Current Department of Environment and Science policy was to simply monitor reports of carcasses in the ocean and for the local authority to take responsibility for the mess if they washed ashore.

That approach last week resulted in a stinking carcass that observers said caused some to feel physically ill.

The dead whale came ashore at the edge of Coolum's Third Bay, lodging flesh and bone among the rocks and spreading oil through the surf zone.

Scientists have warned that after 35 years of constant 11 per cent annual growth with the whale population doubling every seven years a collapse could come as soon as 2022.

If that does occur, University of Queensland Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory scientist Michael Noad said it would result in increased mortality, particularly on the humpback whale migration back south to the Antarctic.

"Weak whales would come onto beaches and dead whales would wash ashore," he said.

The last survey of numbers past the Sunshine Coast before funding was cut in 2015 counted 26,000 animals with more than 30,000 estimated to pass the region in 2016.

"There needs to be policy to deal with it," Associate Professor Noad said. "There would also be shipping hazards.

"It's a real possibility with real problems that require cooperation and foresight."

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries records show two tiger sharks - one measuring 2.8 metres and 1.2 metres - were caught by Queensland Shark Control drum lines at Yaroomba and Coolum in a four-day period around the latest incident.

These numbers compared with only two tiger sharks, the largest 2. …

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