SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian marine rescuers were working on Thursday to free a humpback whale entangled in a shark net off Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Footage showed Sea World staff reaching out with blades at the end of long poles to try and cut a large mass of netting with orange buoys and yellow weights off the whale’s tail as it let out cries and thrashed its tail on the surface of the sea.
“There was so much net all over it, they said it was just covered,” said one unidentified resident to local television network Nine Network.
The endeavour to assist the whale had begun on Wednesday when surfers in the area had tried to free the trapped animal from the netting.
Marine mammal park Sea World and the Queensland Department of Fisheries then took over the operation, as members of the whale pod stayed close by, but the rescue attempt had to be stopped late on Wednesday because of choppy water conditions.
A tracker was placed on the 8-metre-long (26-feet) whale before it was released, so it could be located on Thursday for the attempt to continue.
Six whales were entangled in shark nets on the Gold Coast in 2020 and all were successfully released, local media quoted shark control programme manager Michael Mikitis as saying.
The nets are used across the coast of Australia’s northeast to catch sharks and reduce their numbers in the marine area.
(Reporting by Stefica Nicol Bikes; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)