Young humpback whale rescued from Gold Coast fishing gear

A humpback whale has been rescued off the Gold Coast after becoming entangled in rope and sea buoys.

Sea World Foundation rescue teams were called in to rescue the juvenile whale, which was seen with the entangled fishing gear off Coolangatta.

Rescue teams worked diligently to remove the rope and buoys using specialized cutting blades.

Crews were called in 2 nautical miles from Coolangatta. (Sea World)

Wayne Phillips, head of Marine Sciences at Sea World, said the whale was exhausted when the boat reached it, with four buoys dug into its tail.

“He’s been dragging for quite some time,” he said.

“We were able to put some cuffs on the rig that it dragged to remove the ropes and so on, and then it was a pretty easy untangling, which was nice, but unfortunately that’s because our patient was quite weakened.”

Teams used specialized items to cut and remove the rope and buoys from the whale’s tail. (Sea World)

Crews stayed nearby to watch the 8-10 meter long whale as it recovered from the ordeal, before slowly returning to sea.

Phillips said the young humpback whale could have gotten the fishing gear from anywhere from Tasmania along the east coast of New South Wales.

“It’s quite hard for them because you can imagine having that resistance for so long,” he said.

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“The animal was compromised, very emaciated, quite listless.

“We stayed with it for a while after the split and he swam away pretty strong so we hope he’s doing well and wishing him all the best.”

The whale was spotted by whale watching crews off Coolangatta. (Sea World)
The humpback had several shackles tangled around its tail, requiring specialist clipping. (Sea World)

Phillips said the organization is often called upon to rescue whales at this time of year, marking the start of the annual migration period.

He said 18 whales across the country were trapped in fishing gear last year.

“As a country, we could only help two of these whales,” Phillips said.

“Unfortunately, as a country, we’re not doing a great job removing some of this stuff from these whales.”

Phillips said the whale remained calm during the rescue due to exhaustion, but swam away vigorously after the fishing gear was removed. (Sea World)

Commercial fishermen are advised to take care of their ropes and nets and notify authorities if fishing gear is lost overboard as it can quickly become entangled with marine life.

“It’s just a shame we have to do this every year. These animals come into contact with this commercial fishing gear during whale migration and they can take it back to Antarctica for the rest of the year,” Philips said.

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