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Heavy machinery was required to remove the whale carcass. Photo: Cortlan Bennett

Heavy machinery was required to remove the whale carcass. Photo: Cortlan Bennett

The Inertia

Western Australia’s shark cull policy was already a controversial subject. Now this. Yesterday, WA Today reported that “20 tonnes of shark bait drift[ed] onto one of Perth’s most popular beaches.” Undoubtedly, and unsurprisingly, WA Premier Colin Barnett’s opposition is none too pleased.

Sadly, this isn’t the first occurrence of its kind either. In October of 2013, a similar instance took place when a shark carcass washed ashore at Whitfords Beach. Dave Kelly, Labor spokesman for Fisheries, is quoted as saying the government “could not say it was an unexpected occurrence,” though “Twelve months later it appears as if nothing has happened…The carcass [which washed up at Scarborough] was identified several days ago but it was simply allowed to drift onto the coast.”

It seems, to an outsider, that given the heat generated by the shark cull, any negligence on the part of the WA government pertaining to the ocean would be preemptively nipped in the bud. Yet when something as large as the above whale carcass is allowed to float to shore on one of the capital city’s largest beaches, it’s a loud reminder of the seemingly laissez-faire attitude at play.

Mr. Kelly believes preemptive action should’ve been taken to tow the carcass out to sea before it made landfall, and that’s a tough argument to refute given that “…this carcass attracted many sharks, including a number of great whites, if in the last couple of days we had had a member of the public taken by a great white shark, would the Premier have blamed the shark, would the Premier have said it was a rogue shark?”

However, it’s been noted that towing the whale carcass offshore isn’t a simple operation and that it’s somewhat “‘…unfair to expect local governments to foot the bill for these types of incidences’ as it was ‘the luck of the draw’ where a whale washes up.”

Regardless, carcasses washing up on shore is a cost that ends up being incurred by the local government in the end as removal is necessary as well. Whether preemptive towing is a viable solution or not, this is something that must be solved as enormous marine life drifting ashore is a shocking reminder of what’s happening in the water. Should it happen again, and the worst case scenario play out – a shark attack as a result of the near-shore carcass – this will undoubtedly be a bigger issue. But shouldn’t there be a solution in place before that?


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