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April 11, 2021

Divers free entangled whale

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Queensland Fisheries divers launch their boats at the Pass in Byron Bay. Photo Chris Dobney
Queensland Fisheries divers launch their boats at the Pass in Byron Bay. Photo Chris Dobney

Chris Dobney

A whale spotted entangled in fishing rope off the coast of Byron Bay early this morning has been freed through the joint efforts of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and a Queensland Fisheries team of divers.

The expert team took several hours to make their way through crowded holiday traffic from Queensland with their rubber duckies in tow.

But within an hour of launching, the team were able to free the whale of in excess of 30 metres of 12-milimitre nylon rope and a float.

By 3.45pm the animal was freed.

A spokesperson for NPWS told Echonetdaily the whale wasn’t tagged but it was last seen heading on its way back up the coast.

‘We’d believe it was a young adult and it’s not unusual that whales in this predicament turn out to be young males,’ the spokesperson said.

‘It’s normal for us to have a report of an entangled whale and it will progressively move up or down the coast.

‘But thanks to the good work of the Queensland team it’s free to make many more migrations.

The spokesperson said the rope was probably part of fishing gear, rather than shark netting, which some commenters on our site had suggested.

‘The whale could have picked it up anywhere. Judging by its condition it’s likely to have been on the animal for a couple of days if not longer, so it could’ve picked it up on the south coast,’ the spokesperson said.

Strangely enough it was not the only humpback in trouble that NPWS helped out today.

‘While we were focusing on that whale here at Byron there was an almost identical occurrence on the south coast at Narooma, where another humpack entangled with rope was freed by our team down there,’ the spokesperson added.


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