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A migrating humpback whale was entangled in a shark net last night off Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast, marking the first entanglement of the young whale migration season. The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has confirmed that crews beginning at 6 am this morning were able to free the animal.
Conservationists from Humane Society International (HSI) Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) are once again calling for the immediate removal of shark nets in SE Queensland. The shark nets are always damaging to marine life, and it is abhorrent that the nets are left in for the duration of the whale migration season.
HSI Australia Marine Biologist, Lawrence Chlebeck said: “Every single year we see the same predictable and avoidable story play out over and over again.
“Migrating humpback whales swimming along the SE QLD coast have to dodge and weave past 27 lethal shark nets, and inevitably some are entangled.
“For the whales, getting caught in a net is tremendously stressful, and these animals on their epic journey just don’t have any energy to spare. Even if freed alive, there’s no guarantee they’ll survive after the traumatic ordeal.”
AMCS shark scientist, Dr Leonardo Guida said: “It beggars belief that the Queensland Government is yet to remove shark nets, and year after year when whales get entangled, the Government continues to unnecessarily put the wellbeing and safety of whale rescue crews at risk.
“Successful trials of drones to keep an eye out for sharks and alert lifesavers to swimmers at risk of drowning at Queensland beaches, makes the continued use of a 61 year old shark net strategy all the more redundant.”
Shark nets operating as part of Queensland’s Shark Control Program were responsible for the entanglement of 13 whales last season – equal to the most entangled whales in any migration season in the last 20 years. In addition to migrating whales, shark nets entrap and kill dolphins, turtles, sharks and rays.
Humane Society International (HSI) is the world’s largest animal protection organisation and HSI Australia established our office in 1994. We work to create a humane and sustainable world for animals advocating across wildlife conservation and animal welfare policy areas.
Image: Photo of a whale entanglement from previous years.