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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK
Shark frenzy tourists madden minister
Great White Shark feeding
Video showed tourists patting about a dozen sharks
An Australian state minister says he is considering new laws to protect "people too stupid to protect themselves" after tourists were filmed touching great white sharks feeding on a whale carcass.

Harry are you an idiot or what?

Friend of shark patter
Boatloads surrounded a dead southern right whale off the coast near Adelaide to watch about a dozen great white sharks tearing into the animal's flesh.

Man on whale's back
One slip and he's a dinner
Television pictures showed people patting the frenzied killer sharks on the head - an Australian woman's voice can be heard exclaiming: "Harry are you an idiot or what?"

One man clambered onto the dead whale's back to pose for a souvenir photograph.

Angry minister

But South Australian state Environment Minister Iain Evans said he was shocked at the tourist's disregard for their own safety.

Boats gather around whale corpse
Minister wants to ban this kind of thing
"These creatures are not toys," he said angrily.

"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.

Australian environmental protection laws ban people from approaching within 100 metres of a live whale. Mr Evans said he would now look at exclusion zones for dead whales too.

Dangerous waters

Australian waters were the most dangerous in the world for shark attacks last year when global figures rose to a record high.

Whale carcass
The whale is thought to have died from natural causes
There were 10 fatal attacks worldwide in 2000, including three in Australian waters after great white shark attacks.

The deaths of three other people in Australia are also strongly believed to have resulted from shark attacks, but their remains were either never found or had been in the water too long to tell if they were eaten before or after they died.

Some experts blame overfishing in Australian waters for the increase in attacks because they say sharks are forced to hunt closer to shore.

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See also:

10 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Scientists tag a great white
22 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Sharks endangered by fin trade
09 Feb 01 | Americas
Shark attacks at record high
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