Diamond day for entangled whale

A young humpback whale is continuing its migration after being cut free from ropes in a delicate but dangerous operation off Diamond Head, on the mid-North coast, on Friday.

Aerial view of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) entangled in ropes

Following two witness reports the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Camden Haven Marine Rescue responded to an entangled whale about 500 metres offshore from the Diamond Head campground.

NPWS Large Whale Disentanglement Team Leader Shane Robinson said the whale had a long length of 10 millimetre rope wrapped around its body which they were able to remove safely using special cutting tools on long extension poles.

'This was a great outcome as the prognosis for this animal was not good the longer it had remained entangled,' Shane said.

'With the Camden Haven Marine Rescue vessel in support carrying extra NPWS crew and the specialised equipment needed by the disentanglement team, we were able to approach it and cut the ropes away which enabled the whale to continue its journey northward.

'Any attempt to disentangle a distressed whale is inherently dangerous and complicated by changing sea conditions, the enormous size of the whale and its unpredictable instinctive behaviours.

'NPWS disentanglement teams are highly trained specialists using internationally recognised techniques and tools, and this was a complex operation where we relied on our training and experience to safely cut the animal free.

'We were fortunate that the conditions were right for the NPWS team to safely launch vessels, approach the whale and cut it free.

'Naturally with more whales moving along our coast we can only expect that from time to time some of these may need assistance which we are ready to provide when it is safe to do so.

'The best way for people to help these animals is to immediately report any sightings of entangled or distressed whales to authorities,' Shane said.