ANIMAL

A 15-meter-long whale washed up on the beach, causing passersby to flock to witness it. P

A significant stretch of South African coastline has been blocked after a 15-meter whale washed up on the beach after being attacked by great white sharks. The whale’s carcass drew a large number of great white sharks to Muizenberg beach in Cape Town on Sunday, prompting its removal from the water. The southern right whale has subsequently been removed from the beach, but authorities have closed a length of the beach from Muizenberg to Monwabisi ‘as a precaution.’

 

Dealing with a type of whale that can weigh up to 47 tons, disaster response personnel had to work quickly to bring the animal out of the water and onto a flat-bed truck. “A decision was taken to commence the recovery effort immediately because of the increased shark activity off beaches around the False Bay shoreline,” said Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, a spokesperson for Cape Town’s disaster risk management center.

 

The warning did not deter inquisitive passers-by from flocking to the location. Samples were obtained from the corpse to allow pathologists to determine the cause of death before it was disposed of at a landfill site, according to Claire McKinnon, manager of the Cape Town cleaning and solid-waste management department. A bulldozer moved the whale across the sand once it got out of the sea.

It was unclear if the whale was alive when the sharks attacked it or had died of disease, according to Solomons-Johannes. “In typical situations, predators like sharks approach their prey from behind or beneath,” he explained. “Predators don’t normally fight.”

 

“A predator sneaks up on the victim and strikes stealthily. Because sick, wounded, young, or old animals are easier to trap, predators target them.” J.P. Andrews, a local youngster, was bitten by a great white shark while surfing off Muizenberg beach in 2005. Doctors declared him dead on the beach, yet he lived despite losing his right leg.

 

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