A dead whale has washed up on a Victorian beach, sparking a shark warning ahead of a fishing carnival expected to draw hundreds of people to the area this weekend.
The 11-metre sperm whale was reported at the Golden Beach, known locally as Flamingo beach, midway along Gippsland’s Ninety Mile Beach, on Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency authorities warn the carcass could lead to more shark activity in the area over coming days.
“A whale carcass can attract sharks to the area and mean they’re closer to the shore than normal,” authorities warned on Thursday.
Swimmers are urged to avoid the entire length of Golden Beach and 500 metres out to sea.
It comes as the Golden Beach Australia Day Weekend Fishing Carnival prepares to kick off, a regular event that draws hundreds of people to the area.
“We are certainly aware of the whale carcass located in the vicinity ,” event organisers posted on Facebook.
“We would ask that you all heed the advice of the relevant authorities in regards to the whale.”
A Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spokeswoman said it decided late on Thursday to leave the carcass at the site.
“It’s still there, it will stay there … unless circumstances change,” she said.
“Due to where it is, it’s quite remote, so to get a machine or anything in there to move it would actually mean kilometres of tracking big heavy machinery on the beach, which causes a lot of damage, which we don’t like to do.”
Given the beach is not patrolled, water users are reminded to take responsibility for their actions by keeping informed of the situation.
Whale remains are protected by law and must not be interfered with by members of the public.
Pathogens from the whale carcass can also be harmful to humans.
It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to get close to a whale and to take or possess parts of a dead whale.
Shark sightings should be reported by calling triple-0.