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Fixing a Failed Whale Burial in Australia

After a beached humpback was buried in the sand, the sharks started coming.

Last week, a humpback whale migrating from its summer feeding waters in Antarctica got snared in a fishing line. It washed up on a beach in Australia and died there.

But this whale’s tragic journey was just beginning. After being buried on the beach, the whale was recently exhumed, chopped up, and buried again.

As Agence France-Presse reports, the humpback washed up last week on Nobbys Beach, on the coast of New South Wales. Although authorities tried to drag the body back to sea, it got caught on some rocks, so they buried it instead.

Then the sharks started coming. Scientifically, it’s unclear whether buried dead whales actually attract scavengers. But according to Yahoo 7 News, after the whale was buried, “at least 21 sharks” were spotted “swarming” in the area, freaking out locals, interrupting surf school, and inspiring a petition that garnered thousands of signatures.

“Under mounting pressure, the state government stepped in with enough cash to fund the removal of the decomposing animal,” writes AFP. This was a difficult process, involving toothed excavators that ripped the carcass up, and a massive crane that lifted the remains off the beach.

The whale is now in a landfill, and the people of New South Wales are resting easy… for the moment. With everything that’s happened to this humpback, they might want to keep an eye out for angry ghost whales.