A mother and her baby humpback whale were entangled in a shark net on a Gold Coast beach this morning.
At 11 a.m. on Friday, a passerby observed the whales stranded 200 meters off Main Beach and immediately notified the Queensland Shark Control Program.
In this stunning overhead footage recorded by 9News, whales can be seen flopping around in the ocean, seeking to escape the nets.
A SeaWorld vessel and a Queensland Fisheries and Sail Patrol vessel circled the enormous creatures, determining the best method to free them.
According to Michael Mikitis, director of the Shark Program, a marine animal rescue team from the Fisheries Service employed special equipment to free the creatures.
‘Sea World is also backing the release,’ Mr. Mikitis told the Brisbane Times.
‘At 11:30 a.m., our crew was activated after the whale was reported via the Shark Control Hotline and confirmed using Coastwatch’s camera.’
Because of the 2m swell and 15 knot southeasterly winds, whale researcher Dr Olaf Meynecke stated that “the conditions were quite challenging to release fish.”
The whales were ultimately freed at 2 p.m. after being imprisoned for three hours and began swimming away from the land.
As it swam away, the calf was still caught in the net on its tail, but it ultimately popped free.
More whales could be caught in nets on the Gold Coast in the coming weeks, according to Dr. Meynecke.
“We are now truly approaching the main peak of the Northern migration,” he told ABC News.
‘Within the following two weeks, we expect between 200 and 300 visitors every day to the Gold Coast.’
The double rescue on Friday comes after another humpback calf was released last month after being trapped in a shark net off Burleigh Beach on the south Gold Coast.
Django, a diver, jumped out of his pectoral fin and rescued the newborn whale’s pectoral fin from the slicing net.
‘When I saw the whale, I thought, ‘That’s amazing.’ Then I saw him on the internet and thought, “That’s not cool,” he explained.
He might face a punishment of up to $26,900 for interfering with shark control nets, which is unlawful in Queensland.