SHARKS FEAST ON DEAD BLUE WHALE IN NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (January 31, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---The blue whale that received New Caledonia's attention for the past five weeks ended its life as a feast for an incalculable number of sharks, RFO's Télé-Nouvelle-Calédonie reported.

The whale -- believed to be a young female that had lost her mother -- had shown increasing signs of weakness.

She finally give in to the numerous bull sharks that had started circling around her in the bay of Prony (south of the main island), taking bites of her flesh as she continued to weaken.

As Eric Clua, a marine biologist with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) had earlier predicted, the dead whale's body sank and, for a time, was no longer visible.

Later, the carcass, which had become much lighter, re-surfaced.

New guests at the final feast included a 3.5-meter-long (12-foot-long) tiger shark, much larger than the bull sharks that had left.

After a close examination of the remains of the whale, Clua said she had apparently lost her mother, was unable to feed herself and was in a state of "psychological distress."

"The only thing that could have saved her would have been to meet an adult from the same species that would have protected her," Clua said.

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