This afternoon a group of tourists and staff on Whale Watching Sydney boat Ocean Dreaming II found a ten-metre humpback whale caught in netting about two nautical miles (about four kilometres) offshore from Bondi Beach.
The whale remains trapped, despite the efforts of the boat’s crew and Marine Rescue New South Wales, who managed to cut him free of some of the netting.
Robert Elvin, from Marine Rescue NSW said: “The whale was extremely distressed and exhausted despite the size of it.”
The whale watching group came across the whale close to the start of their tour, and, as they thought it was sleeping, started to take photos, says Whale Watching Sydney Guide Justin Hawco.
The boat’s crew, including Hawco, soon realised the humpback whale was actually trapped, tangled in a line attached to a fish trap on the sea floor.
“In this guy’s case [the line] was through the mouth around one of the pectoral fins and then back to the tail and probably six wraps around the tail and from there straight down to a fish trap.”
They cut the line between the tail and the mouth – but were unable to free the whale.
“It seemed very calm but to me that suggested it had very little energy left.
“It wasn’t flopping around, in fact every time we got up close to it, it turned its tail towards us…almost like it wanted us to get in and get the line off.”
A desperate battle has been fought 4 kilometres off Bondi beach to free a whale trapped in a fishing net. The juvenile humpback was exhausted and barely able to swim when it was spotted by crew and sightseers aboard a whale watching boat. @PaulKadak #7News pic.twitter.com/q1aEwZlAYT
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 29, 2018
The National Parks and Wildlife Service were last surveying the whale via helicopter and putting together a specialist crew, but were unable to begin work disentangling the whale so close to evening.
They’ll begin to extricate the whale at first light.