The juvenile humpback struggles with the entanglement on its fluke.
The juvenile humpback struggles with the entanglement on its fluke. NPWS

Entangled whale calf swims free

A JUVENILE humpback has been freed from a nasty entanglement seemingly a year after swimming through the ropes and chains of a fish/lobster trap off Coffs Harbour.

The whale was cut free during a successful rescue mission performed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service off Seven Mile Beach near Forster.

Rescuers hope the humpback has continued on its northern migration without its wounds becoming infected.

NPWS acting Great Lakes area manager David Bearup said the entanglement had been in place for a long time.

Mr Bearup said one float was registered to the Coffs Harbour area so it’s believed the whale picked it up on the migration south last year as a calf.

“Based on the condition of the material and the size of whale it is believed it was born last year and its development has been severely compromised by the presence of the entanglement over the past 12 months,” Mr Bear-up said.

“The material had been wrapped around the head and tail causing deep cuts to the juvenile humpback whale.

“The release of the ropes will hopefully give the animal a chance to heal and rest before continuing north on its annual migration.

“If the material had not been removed from the tail the chances for the whale surviving would have been very poor as the whale did not have full ability to function and survive independently.

“If the whale can recuperate from the wounds and regain its strength it may survive.

"The next couple of days are crucial.”

The delicate operation was performed at sea involving NPWS staff assisted by Forster-based Marine Rescue members.

Boat skippers on the Mid North Coast have been urged to keep an eye out for whales in similar strife and report entanglements to local NPWS offices as soon as possible.


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