23 Mar 2018

Mass whale stranding sparks shark alert

2:56 pm on 23 March 2018

A mass whale stranding at a beach in Augusta in Western Australia, 315 kilometres south of Perth, has sparked a shark advice alert.

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A warning is on the West Australian government's SharkSmart website. Photo: Screenshot / Sharksmart website

Up to 150 whales are beached at Hamelin Bay, about 1 kilometre north of the boat ramp, according to the Department of Fisheries' Sharksmart website.

While most of the whales - believed to be pilot whales - are dead, some are still alive.

The sighting was reported by a fisherman at 6.00am on Friday.

"It is possible the dead and dying animals will act as an attractant, which could lead to sharks coming close in to shore along this stretch of coast," the alert said.

"While it's not uncommon for sharks to be present off the Western Australian coast throughout the year, people should exercise additional caution until the stranding incident is resolved."

Fisherman Graham Pateman came across the whales this morning.

"As we've left the anchorage we've seen four or five whales, I believe there's more on the beaches," he said.

Mr Pateman is a commercial fisher but was out amateur fishing at the time.

"We were just going to pull our pots, we're not far [from the beach] we're just half a mile of the beach," he said.

It was unclear if the whales he could see were alive or dead.

Officers from the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attraction are heading to the scene.