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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Explosive end to shark 'attraction'
dead whale
The dead whale provoked a feeding and tourist frenzy
Australian police have detonated explosives in the rotting carcass of a whale that had become a dangerous tourist attraction.

Television pictures last week showed great white sharks feeding on the dead southern right whale south of Adelaide - as sightseers in boats patted their snouts and even climbed onto the back of the whale.

It will give marine scavengers a better chance of doing what they do best

South Australia spokesman Arndrae Luks
Horrified local politicians went as far as suggesting new laws "to protect people too stupid to protect themselves".

South Australia state police said they had placed three small explosive charges in the whale's belly to blow a hole in it and speed up the decomposition process.

The whale was then towed away from shipping lanes off the coast of Adelaide and the charges detonated.

Sigthseer poses on dead whale's back
Some people put themselves at risk from shark attack
"It was entirely successful," a police spokeswoman told Reuters news agency. "It no longer presents a problem."

State government spokesman Arndrae Luks said: "It will give marine scavengers a better chance of doing what they do best, which is to clean up dead and decaying material in the ocean."

Marine authorities have said it appeared the whale died of natural causes.

World's most dangerous

Australian waters were the most dangerous in the world for shark attacks in 2000 when global figures rose to a record high.

There were 10 fatal shark attacks worldwide including three in Australian waters from great whites.

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. They say it forces sharks to hunt closer to shore.

See also:

25 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Shark frenzy maddens minister
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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