Authorities Struggle to Free Whale From Fishing Gear in Western Australia

June 25, 2018 Last Updated: June 25, 2018

A whale was found tangled in fishing gear just south of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, on June 23.

A marine ranger at Rottnest Island’s Parker Point was conducting routine sea lion monitoring at 11:15 a.m. when they came across the whale.

Later that afternoon, the officers attached satellite technology on the whale. They hoped to be able to track its movement in real-time so they could attempt to disentangle it when conditions were appropriate.

But by the afternoon of June 24, the authorities said that the whale was “swimming north and still too far off the coast to attempt disentanglement.”

The humpback whale was not at risk of stranding, the ABC reported.

It is estimated that 33,000 humpbacks will migrate 5,000 kilometers north along the east and west coasts of Australia to breed. Jacqueline O’Neill, the President of the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans (ORRCA), expects to see around 2,065 humpbacks this year. 1,500 were recorded in 2016 and 2,000 in 2017, ABC reported.

Humpback calf breaches Twofold Bay, South Coast, New South Wales, Australia, on Oct. 18, 2016. (Thomas Williams [CC BY 2.0 (ept.ms/2haHp2Y)] via Flickr)
This is usually the time of the year when whale watchers show up to count the whales as they go by.

ORCCA volunteer Leigh Mansfield, who is stationed at Tacking Point Lookout in Port Macquarie, told the ABC that some people count whales by looking for the spray ejected when whales blow. But Mansfield says it’s also important to look out for the tails when counting the sprays, as one whale may blow more than once when coming to the surface.

Credit: Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia via Storyful