When boaters in Western Australia happened upon the drifting remains of a humpback whale, they initially mistook the carcass for the hull of a sinking ship. Motoring closer, the onlookers found themselves front-row centre at a tiger-shark feeding extravaganza. There's nothing quite like a bobbing blubber buffet to bring in hungry scavengers, after all!

The sighting is no reason for beachgoers to worry: New Zealand native Barry Watkins, who filmed the feeding event near Garden Island, notes that the carcass was located about nine miles offshore. 

A shiver of eight tiger sharks visited the whale remains as Watkins idled nearby for around 15 minutes, according to Caters News Agency. He estimates that the largest shark in the bunch measured over five metres, nearly the length of his boat. (Though not inconceivable, such impressive dimensions would approach the upper limit for the species, so it's likely the shark was a bit smaller.)

They might not be record-breakers, but the individuals in Watkins's clip are certainly brawny. As is the case with many other shark species, female tiger sharks tend to overshadow males when it comes to size. These animals grow extremely slowly, so seeing such healthy adults – which may well have been sexually mature females – is exciting.

Australia has had a complicated relationship with sharks in recent years, but public support for the region's top predators is mounting. Watkins appreciates and respects these misunderstood animals despite a tragic loss in his past: his father, John, was fatally bitten by a shark in New Zealand waters, one of only a handful of such incidents on record. Forty years after that life-changing event, Watkins remains a supporter of non-lethal measures for shark control.

The sighting near Garden Island is one he feels lucky to have witnessed. "I'm not putting anything against sharks. The way I look at it is we're swimming in their domain," he told the New Zealand Herald. "While we watched them, I was more concerned about [the sharks] damaging the boat's motor by chewing it."



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