A humpback whale has been rescued off the Gold Coast after it was entangled in rope and marine buoys.
The Sea World foundation’s rescue teams were called to rescue the juvenile whale, which was spotted towing the entangled fishing gear off Coolangatta.
Rescue teams worked carefully to remove the rope and buoys using specialized cutting knifes.
Head of Marine Sciences at Sea World, Wayne Phillips said the whale was exhausted when the boat reached it, with four buoys digging into its tail.
“It had been towing for a considerable amount of time,” he said.
“We were able to put some buoys on to the gear it was towing to clear the ropes and so forth and then it was quite a simple disentanglement which was nice but unfortunately it’s because our patient was quite debilitated.”
Crews stayed nearby to watch the 8-10 metre whale as it recovered from the ordeal, before slowly making its way back to sea.
Phillips said the young humpback could have picked the fishing gear up anywhere from Tasmania up the east coast of New South Wales.
“It’s quite difficult for them as you can imagine having that resistance for such a long period of time,” he said.
“The animal was compromised, very emaciated, quite lethargic.
“We stayed with it for a while after the disentanglement and he did swim off quite strong so we hope it does well and wish him all the best.”
Phillips said the organisation are often called to whale rescues this time of year, marking the start of the annual migration period.
He said last year there were 18 whales reportedly trapped in fishing gear, nation wide.
“As a country we were only able to assist two of these whales,” Phillips said.
“Unfortunately we don’t do a great job as a country removing some of this stuff from these whales.”
Commercial fishers are recommended to take care of their ropes and nets and to notify authorities when fishing gear is lost overboard, as it can quickly become entangled in marine life.
“It’s just unfortunate that we need to do this every year, these animals are coming into contact with this commercial fishing gear right throughout the whale migration and they can take it with them for the remainder of the year down to the Antarctic as well,” Phillips said.