Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Young Humpback Whale Rescued in Australia

A RESCUE mission to free a young humpback from shark nets off Coolangatta was almost ruined by an over-protective adult whale.

The trapped 8m mammal, believed to be about two years old, was first spotted about 800m from shore by Trevor Arbon, from Big Trev's Watersports, about 11am.

Mr Arbon said the whale was obviously tangled in shark nets and was thrashing around.

"It's been trying to get out," he said. "I saw it get about a third of its body out of the water."

Queensland Boating and Fisheries received a call about the whale shortly after 11am and sent an animal release team to the scene.

Shark Control Program manager Tony Ham, from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, said the whale had netting tangled around its head and tail.

"It became wrapped up lengthways," he said.

"It had laid against the net and rolled over itself."

He said the rescue crew had almost finished cutting the whale free from the net when a bigger, adult humpback charged the boat.

"They'd cut most of the entangle-ment away when the adult came in," said Mr Ham.

"Then the juvenile panicked and became re-entangled."

He said the crew were not harmed but it was frustrating having to start again.

"Whales are very close pod animals," he said.

"They display aggression when they see something as a threat.

"The juvenile would have been calling to the pod in distress."

The whale was eventually cut free about 3.25pm and swam off with the adult.

"It had some chafe marks from the nets, as would be expected, but there was no bleeding and no injuries," said Mr Ham.

It is nice to see a happy ending for this young whale's adventure.

You can see the original news posting here complete with more photos.

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