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Byron Shire
July 15, 2024

Humpback freed off Evans Head

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A member of the Sea World Foundation rescue team helps to free a large humpback whale off the coast of Evans Head. Photo Sea World Foundation

A whale that was badly enmeshed in commercial fishing gear was freed off the coast of Evans Head earlier this month, following a major community rescue effort.

The large humpback, which was entangled in thick rope and towing buoys, was first spotted on June 13 off Burewarra Point south of Batemans Bay.

Over the following week whale watchers, and members of whale conservation group ORCA, kept the authorities informed about the mammal’s slow progress up the coast.

On June 21, a rescue team from the Sea World Foundation managed to find the whale near Yamba, about an hour before sunset and attach a satellite tracking device.

Satellite trackers 

‘We were out off the coast of Yamba, and we were lucky enough to stumble across it,’ the rescue team’s skipper, Andy Mulville, said.

‘Our main objective was to get one of our satellite trackers on it so we could hopefully come out the next day and find it during daylight.’

The crew found the whale the next morning and attached a large inflatable buoy to slow it down and keep it close to the surface.

‘Our process was to start at the front of the animal and move back, so we slowly moved down, removing the first line,’ Mr Mulville said.

‘Then we got a second line that was going along underneath and that was the last bit of line that was connected to four floats that had been dragging the whole time.

‘Instantly, when we got that off the whole swim pattern of the animal changed and it took off at about four-to-six knots. It was so good to see that happen.

‘That was one for the memory banks for sure.’ 

Mr Mulville acknowledged that a key part of the rescue was the diligent monitoring of the whale’s progress by community members along the length of the NSW coast.

He said that the fishing gear attached to the whale bore the name of a commercial fishing vessel that had been reported to authorities.

NSW residents who find a whale, dolphin, seal or dugong in distress are encouraged to call ORCA Rescue and Research on 02 9415 3333.

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  1. The whale wasn’t freed, it was already free and got entangled and nearly died in the nets. All Nets should be removed or labeled and the fishing company or Government fined and charged for the detangement. And yesterday a paddle boarder cut more shark nets off a whale on the sunshine coast and is now facing a $30,000 fine tampering with a shark net and saving its life. I would suggest don’t be afraid of fines if you see a whale caught or drowning in shark nets or even a stranded whale. Would you stand by and let a human drown in a net or die on the sand. The whale knows you are there to help and would normally be aware of you and not intentionally hurt you. . Of coarse be careful and the right gear is important. Simple fix, get rid of the f***ing shark nets. The fines are there so people couldn’t get close to the shark nets to document the marine slaughter they were creating. And maybe because I swam under a few shark nets for the media to show what sharks can do. Come on humans stop living in fear and stop killing marine life and get rid of the f***ing shark nets

  2. Wonderful outcome and education regarding Orca as a resource for marine animal rescues in future.
    Hopefully this supports the campaign to get rid of shark nets.


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