A juvenile humpback whale calf tangled in shark nets off Noosa has been rescued by authorities.
It is the second whale calf to become trapped in the nets in the past three days after another was freed on Sunday on the Sunshine Coast.
Ian Chiron was walking at Noosa National Park just after five o’clock on Tuesday morning when he heard the whale calf’s cries.
“I got out of the car and I heard the moan and I thought ‘that’s not right’,” Mr Chiron said.
“It was concerning because I could continue to hear it.
“We could see a pod of whales hanging around the net area, which is really unusual.”
Mr Chiron said he phoned wildlife rescuers who sprang into action, reaching the distressed calf by boat within half an hour.
He said the calf was 400 metres offshore and was badly tangled in shark nets.
“We were watching it from above with a drone and we were howling our eyes out. We didn’t think they were going to get it out,” he said.
The whale calf was released from the nets this morning off Noosa.(Supplied: Sea Shepherd Australia)
He said those watching the rescue from the foreshore were elated when the calf was finally freed.
“I’ve had a good day,” he said.
“I disagree with the shark nets entirely. Yes, there needs to be something [but] there’s probably better technology than what they’re using.”
Release a ‘relief’ for rescuers
It has been a busy few days for rescuers who helped free another calf from nets at Alexandra Headland on Sunday.
A contractor from Fisheries Queensland’s shark control program freed the whale around 7.30am.
Boating and fisheries Noosa district officer Matthew Albiez said the whale at Noosa this morning was also released unharmed, after the alarm was raised.
Authorities rescue a whale calf trapped in a shark net on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday. (Supplied: Glenn Reeves)
“We activated our Marine Animal Release Team [MART],” Mr Albiez said.
“Reports were that our contractor was on site or nearby at Granite Bay.
“He attended the site and began to release the calf – and before the MART team could launch the response vessel, the contractor had released the calf from the net and it swam away.”
Mr Albiez said it was “a relief and very satisfying” when he received word the whale had been freed.
He said the animals are moving closer to shore as they make their way south.
“They’re definitely on their southern migration with their calves, and they normally come in a little closer,” he said.
“When we have this calm weather and they’re on their southern migration with their calves, we do get a few entanglements that way.”
Calls for drones to replace nets
Sea Shepherd volulnteer Taylor Ladd-Hudson filmed the rescue using a drone and says it was a heartbreaking situation.
Sea Shepherd volunteers Daniel Ladd-Hudson and Taylor Ladd-Hudson, 14, filmed the juvenile whale as it was freed from the nets.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Amy Sheehan)
“You could see it splashing and they did a really good job releasing this calf because it’s very dangerous,” Ms Ladd-Hudson said.
“It was so heartbreaking to see this calf actually didn’t have her mother with her.
“Her pod was hanging around but they did slowly swim off around the headland so she was all by herself. Hopefully she will be reunited with her mother.”
Ms Ladd-Hudson said there have been consecutive incidents of calves becoming trapped and isolated from their mothers.
“This is the third year in a row I’ve witnessed this and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see,” she said.
A drone being used in a patrol on the Gold Coast.(Supplied: Surf Life Saving Queensland)
She said she would love to see community expectations around shark nets change.
“I’d love to see positive alternatives put in place that work alongside Surf Life Saving Australia,” she said.
“I would love to see drone surveillance put in place, so drones can spot and ID sharks and can also save human lives.
“I really believe it’s about informing and educating the public.”