ZB

'Awful': Fury after whales tangled in shark net

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jun 2022, 3:14pm
The humpback whale and calf were stuck in a shark net for more than an hour. Photo / 9 News
The humpback whale and calf were stuck in a shark net for more than an hour. Photo / 9 News

'Awful': Fury after whales tangled in shark net

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jun 2022, 3:14pm

Angry conservationists claim "enough is enough'' after a humpback whale and its calf were trapped in a shark net for more than an hour off the coast of Queensland.

SeaWorld Rescue received calls about the entangled whales just before 7am, a spokesman said.

It is migration season for humpback whales during which time they travel from feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean to the warm waters of the Coral Sea to breed and give birth to their young.

Since 2001, 82 whales have been entangled in shark nets.

Conservation groups have long campaigned for the removal of shark nets during migration season.

"Today's entanglement is just another awful example of what we all know is coming every winter," said Humane Society International marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck.

The whales managed to free themselves and swam away together. Photo / 9 News

The whales managed to free themselves and swam away together. Photo / 9 News

"There are better ways to reduce the risk of shark bite without endangering these whales and marine wildlife. Enough is enough."

Shark nets are installed on beaches on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach and Mackay as a part of Queensland's shark control programme (SCP).

However, conservationists say there is huge potential in new, nonlethal technologies such as drone surveillance that could eradicate the need for shark nets.

"The drones are proving their worth on southeast Queensland beaches, keep them up and get the nets out now," said Dr Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist at Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

The SCP recommended replacing shark nets with a safer alternative during whale migration to Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner in September 2020.

In 2021, he said this was off the table.

"Though meant to reduce the risk of shark bite, the nets catch huge numbers of non-target species and cannot keep sharks from shore, providing nothing more than a false sense of security," an AMCS spokesman said.

The whales freed themselves just before 8am without the help of authorities who were on their way to the scene.

The AMCS said that even when an entangled whale manages to free itself, there is no guarantee it will survive.

- Madeleine Achenza, news.com.au