BURYING a whale carcass under a beach may seem like a logical thing to do but does it still attract sharks?
Local researchers James Tucker, Andrew Colefax and Ricky Tate who are studying sharks at the Southern Cross University National Marine Science Centre have been granted a three year scholarship funded at $26,000 annually to aid their studies.
SCU researcher James Tucker is researching whether burying whales on beaches attracts sharks into the surf zone through groundwater leachate seeping from the carcass back into the ocean.
Of local interest is the sperm whale carcass that was last year buried on Sapphire Beach after it washed ashore prompting a shark feeding frenzy.
At the time, Sapphire residents and surfers were concerned the carcass may attract sharks to the area.
"No research on whale burial leachate has been conducted anywhere in the world, let alone it's effects on shark behaviour, ” said Mr Tucker.
"SCU and Department of Primary Industries are funding world first research.”
Three scholarships were awarded through the NSW Department of Primary Industries to researchers undergoing investigations into whether whale carcasses are continuing to attract sharks by looking at shark behaviour and monitoring techniques.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said: "NSW is at the forefront of global shark research but we still have a lot to learn about shark behaviour, surveillance and management.”
"We look forward to their involvement and contribution over the next few years.”
The scholarship is part of the NSW Government's $16 million Shark Management Strategy.