Shark sightings rise after whale washes ashore
Beachgoers along parts of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria have been warned to stay out of the surf with sharks feared to be circling close to shore.
The Victorian Fisheries Authority issued the advice message last night after several reported sightings at St Andrews Beach.
The authority said the animals are attracted to a humpback whale carcass, which was spotted floating offshore near Gunnamatta Beach and has now washed up at Boag Rocks.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning incident spokesperson Kylie Hyland said the beach is still open but people should keep their distance from the whale.
"It will remain on the beach while DELWP, with Parks Victoria, manage the situation," she said.
"Moving a whale is a complex task and many options are being discussed. It is about nine metres in length and could weigh up to 20 tonnes.
"Whale remains are protected by law and must not be interfered with. There is also a possibility of pathogens from the whale carcass that could be harmful to humans."
Swimmers have been told to be careful at Cape Schanck, Fingal, St Andrews beach and Boag Rocks, with the carcass expected to bring sharks closer to shore than normal.
"While it is not uncommon for sharks to be present off the Victorian coast, you should exercise additional caution in the area," the warning reads.
"There is likely to be residue from the carcass in the area that could attract sharks … stay informed and do not enter the water at closed beaches."
The authority urged everyone to swim with a friend and between the flags, keep away from large schools of fish and seals and not enter the water at closed beaches.
They said people should call triple-0 if they see a shark or notify lifesavers immediately if at a patrolled beach.
For updates, visit emergency.vic.gov.au