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The walkabout whale . . . thar she blows

Tourists walked on the whale as great white sharks tore chunks from it  

ADELAIDE, Australia -- Authorities have attempted to blow up the dead whale that became a troublesome tourist attraction and created a new sport: whale jumping.

Video footage last week showed sightseers -- one of them apparently carrying a child -- clambering onto the floating body of a whale and patting the snouts of sharks as they tore chunks from the carcass.

Boat operators in the area seized on the opportunity to give tourists a close up-look at the sharks.

This prompted officials to say new laws may be needed to "to protect people too stupid to protect themselves". Asia
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Summer of the shark  

State Environment Minister Iain Evans said he was "appalled" at the lack of respect the tourists had shown for their own safety.

South Australia state police and transport officials said on Tuesday they had placed three explosive charges in the whale's belly to blow holes in it and hasten its decomposition.

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

No-one was standing on the whale at the time.

"It was entirely successful," a police spokeswoman told Reuters. "It no longer presents a problem."

One of the largest and rarest animals on Earth, the southern right whale was once hunted almost to the point of extinction, but numbers are now steadily increasing.

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

Great white sharks are a protected species under Australian law and their numbers have grown considerably in recent years.

Attacks by them on humans are still rare, but last year two surfers off the coast of South Australia were killed by sharks on two consecutive days.

• International Shark Attack File

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