Not often you'll see a shark warning flag flying on a PE beach. However, on Wednesday morning all the southern beaches in the bay were closed after a large 7m whale carcass was spotted floating offshore between Pipe and Bell Bouy. The prevailing winds and currents saw the dead whale moving closer to shore, and concerns arose that it could attract sharks to the area.
The Beach Office put up the shark flags at all bathing beaches, and sent out a crew of lifesavers in rubber ducks and on jetski's to locate the whale. Once spotted, they stay with it for a few hours until a boat from the Police's water-wing was able to come and assist in towing it out to sea.
Media speculation about a "shark feeding frenzy" was totally over-stated. I spoke with lifeguards who were on the rubber duck that babysat the whale, and they reported seeing only a single shark briefly in the hours they were out there. There was evidence that the whale had been extensively bitten, but this had occurred some time prior.
At about 2pm the whale was towed deeper into the bay in the direction of Bird Island. It would still be wise to exercise caution when swimming/surfing over the next day or two, as the oil slick from the dead whale could still be present and serve as an attractant for predators. Rather be safe than sorry. The surf isn't worth it anyhow, small weak wind swell at best.
Thumbs up to Fernando Cain and the Beach Office for issuing prompt warnings and acting quickly to remove the whale from the beachfront area.