The juvenile whale that became tangled in shark netting off the Queensland coast this week has been freed but will be forced to drag debris as it continues its seasonal migration.
Marine authorities had desperately attempted to cut the netting from the large sea creature throughout the week in water near the Gold Coast.
The operation lasted more than two days and most of the rubbish, including an anchor, was removed from the whale, but some of the gear was unable to be removed, ABC News Breakfast reported.
Nine News reported the whale was “swimming freely” but there was a “just some that was wrapped so tightly they weren’t able to cut all of it off”.
SeaWorld and Queensland Department of Fisheries workers had spent multiple hours desperately attempting to free the eight-metre mammal who became entangled in hundreds of metres of netting.
SeaWorld’s head of marine sciences, Wayne Phillips said earlier in the week the marathon effort had been “quite emotional”.
“We were with the animal for more than 10 hours out there and the weather wasn’t great,” he said of Wednesday’s efforts.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get all the equipment removed.
“Trying to help an animal that large is very difficult and emotional.”
In 2020, six whales became entangled in shark nets, all of whom were successfully released.
In September, a trial replacement of shark nets with alternatives in Queensland waters for the duration of the whale migration season was recommended to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mark Furner, by the Shark Control Program’s scientific working group.
Just last month, Mr Furner said removing the shark nets for the whale migration was off the table for the year.
Shark scientist Leonardo Guida said it was “incredibly frustrating” seeing the same thing unfold each year.
“We have solutions that modernise beach safety standards and don’t put wildlife at risk. Get the nets out and the drones up,” Dr Guida said.
Marine Biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said shark nets were killing Queensland’s marine life.
“The Minister’s (Mark Furner) own experts advised him to remove the nets during the migration season,” he said.
“If he’s not heeding the advice of his own experts, what exactly is his decision making based on?”
Additional reporting from Ellen RansleyInternet Explorer Channel Network