The Darwin Awards

2001 At-Risk Survivor

Next Prev Random At-Risk Survivors have misadventures that stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless we salute the spirit of their colossal blunders with an Honorable Mention. Better luck next time!

Shark Petting Zoo
2001 At-Risk Survivor Confirmed True by Darwin

A ban on approaching dead whales is ill-advised not because it saves the stupid, but because it prohibits more cautious people from closely observing the fascinating spectacle of a shark feeding frenzy. There's nothing dangerous about watching such a scene from a boat--if you remember to keep your limbs away from the predators.

(23 July 2001, Australia) The carcass of a dead whale attracted more than hungry sharks. Local boat operators took advantage of the macabre spectacle and ferried dozens of curious customers to the floating feast near Cape Jervis, 100 kilometers south of Adelaide. As great white sharks ripped hunks of flesh from the gigantic dead mammal, spectators took leave of their senses and reached into the water to pet their snouts. Some even climbed onto the back of the floating meal, one carrying his child for a closer look at the feeding frenzy.

"These creatures are not toys," said Environment Minister Iain Evans. "I am shocked at disrespect for their own safety." He added that the government would consider changing the law in order to protect people too stupid to protect themselves. Since people are forbidden from approaching living whales, authorities contemplate extending the 100-meter exclusion zone to dead whales in order to save gawkers from themselves.

The Southern Right Whale died from natural causes.

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Submitted by: Ian Skinner, Jacob Butcher, Gene Zadzilka,
Mark Henstock
, Richard W. Jones, Christine Bauer
Reference:, The Advertiser, Reuters, CNN


Concerned reader Stuart Binnion says, "Patting the snouts is true, but NO ONE climbed onto the whale with children. Sharks were patted on the snout, that is ALL. if someone had put a child near the shark, they would have been thrown in jail! This story is lame and only made to look decent by the obvious lies someone has added to it."

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