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April 16, 2021

Rescuers rush to free tangled whale off Byron Bay

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A surfer paddles out to the entangled whale in Byron Bay. Photo Gail Hartnett.
A surfer paddles out to the entangled whale in Byron Bay. Photo Gail Hartnett.

A whale rescue team has launched a boat at The Pass in Byron Bay in order to free a humpback whale tangled with rope.

A crew from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has been shadowing the whale, which was just off Tyagarah beach around 11am, but has returned to Main Beach, Byron Bay.

The whale was first spotted off Belongil beach around 8am.

One eyewitness told Echonetdaily she saw a man on a paddleboard go out to the whale and apparently free it.

‘We got there about 8:20 and walked up to Belongil. You could see the whale about 70 metres out and you could see a white buoy with it,’ she said.

‘A guy went out on his surfboard: he was there for a few minutes then paddled back in.

‘It seemed then, that the whale was free and it seemed to be swimming back out towards to ocean,’ the woman said.

Unfortunately, the whale is still entangled, even as it is continuing to swim north according to the NPWS.

Spokesman Lawrence Orel told Echonetdaily that a crew from Queensland was expected to arrive soon.

Mr Orel said it had been confirmed the whale was a juvenile humpback that appeared to be caught in some sort of fishing net.

‘They will make an assessment on what is the most effective way to remove the material from the animal,’ Mr Orel said.

Mr Orel urged members of the public not to approach the whale.

‘There’s been a number of people attempting to enter the water to try to rescue the whale but we’re encouraging people not to do that,’ he said.

‘We understand that people want to help but animals in this situation can be very distressed and agitated so it’s for people’s safety that we ask that they stay away.

‘Part of the assessment we will be making is the extent of the material that the whale has been caught up in.

‘The animal could be trailing material that the people themselves could get caught up in’.

‘The best thing is to wait for the experts (from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries shark mesh crew) to make their assessment.’

Hundreds of people gathered on Byron’s Main Beach this morning trying to spot the distressed whale.


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  1. High time shark netting was dispensed with and fishermen became responsible with regards to netting and fishing gear.

    In general humans have a long way to go to improve with regard to ocean pollution and pollution generally!

    • Absolutely , when i was searching online for updates of this story i was hsocked to see how frequen this situation is up and down the coast .
      Some thing definitely need s to change


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