Citizens Help Western Australia Whale Entanglements

A whale tangled in ropes near Two Rocks was saved on the weekend after a fisherman in a boat stayed close by and kept watch until a rescue crew arrived.


The Department of Environment and Conservation said community members played an important role in locating and monitoring entangled whales off WA’s coast.


DEC’s large whale disentanglement response team leader Doug Coughran said with help from the public, DEC was successful in disentangling a 10-metre humpback whale off Two Rocks on Saturday.


Whale rescue two rocksRescue operations can be dangerous as whales become stressed. Photo: Leighton De Barros


A commercial fisherman reported the sub-adult whale on Saturday and remained on site until DEC arrived.


The whale had heavy ropes and several floats wrapped tightly around its body and tail.


“DEC would not have found the whale had the fisherman not stayed with the whale, which can be difficult depending on weather and fuel,” Mr Coughran said.


A whale caught in a fisherman's net was rescued off the coast of Two Rocks at the weekend. Click for more photos

Whale rescue off Two Rocks

A whale caught in a fisherman’s net was rescued off the coast of Two Rocks at the weekend.


“The Two Rocks Sea Rescue also played a pivotal role in Saturday’s operation ensuring that the DEC team were able to reach the whale, satellite tag it and then disentangle the fishing debris wrapped tightly around its tail.


“Disentangling operations can be very hazardous as we are dealing with highly stressed large animals, so when they are successful it is a great sense of achievement for all those involved.”


A second operation was attempted late Sunday afternoon to help a humpback whale sighted off City Beach but the whale could not be located before nightfall.


A private boat owner reported seeing the whale.


Mr Coughran said the sightings over the weekend brought the number of whales that had been spotted entangled off the state’s south-west coast to eight since they began their northern migration from the Antarctic in late March.


“This was the first whale this season that DEC has been able to reach and disentangle,” he said.


“Previous sightings were located a significant distance off the coast or bad weather hampered rescue operations making it impossible to reach the animals in time and making it too dangerous for DEC officers.”


Whales – predominately humpbacks – are seen off the metropolitan coast from May onwards and generally are further out to sea on the northern leg of their migration.


People who see an entangled or beached whale should keep a safe distance from the animals and contact DEC’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

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