The oddly inviting carcass of a humpback whale near western Australian's Rottnest Island drew the rumbling bellies of hungry sharks, as well as a shirtless boater who had to be pulled off of his fleshy throne atop the rotting sea animal's back.
The humpback whale measured about 12 meters (roughly 39 feet). The man is believed to have dived from his perfectly sound boat and climbed atop the rotting sea mammal to do who knows what.
Authorities believe the sharks were in the vicinity at or around the time the man took his seat atop the putrid mound of whale flesh, according to Tony Capelutti, from the Department of Fisheries' Shark Response Unit.
"I don't know why he did that but if it was for some kind of adrenaline rush it was very unwise," Capelutti said. "He has not committed any offence as far as the Fisheries Act is concerned but it is a risky situation and risky behavior."
Capelutti says his department was alerted about the whale carcass on Nov. 1 at around 1:30 p.m. Australian Western Standard Time (AWST). One of the reports included details about the sharks that were said to be feeding on the massive mammal, tiger sharks and a white shark, though they didn't include any information about a man exploring the top of a dead humpback whale.
A camera crew from a local news outlet flew over the carcass, but no one could make out the presence of sharks around the carcass.
"If sharks were feeding on that whale carcass when he swam over then that type of behavior is highly risky," said Capelutti. "It potentially could have had some critical consequences, not only for the person but also for the witnesses and other people that would have had to assist. Ninety-nine percent of the population would see that behavior as irresponsible."
It's not clear how long the man sat on top of the dead whale, but other boaters had to remove him and place him in their boat. Despite the thrill of sitting shirtless on top of the relatives of the world's largest mammal -- blue whales hold that distinction -- Capelutti reiterates the dangers of blending in with such a large source of shark food.
"It is very risky to enter the water around that type of large food source because even if you can't see sharks it's highly likely the carcass is attracting them from a long way away," he said. "Irrespective of some type of adrenaline rush or whatever you're trying to get out of performing that type of act, it's highly risky."