Subject: Trapped Whale-Australia

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Mon, 27 Oct 1994 10:35:37

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Subject: Trapped Whale-Australia
 
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Subj:	WILLY MAY RETURN TO SEA ON
 
Date:         Tue, 25 Oct 1994 10:43:00 UTC
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
Subject:      WILLY MAY RETURN TO SEA ON
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To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
 
WILLY MAY RETURN TO SEA ON A PONTOON
 
   SYDNEY, Oct 25 AAP - Willy the tropical whale, who has made the
Manning River near Taree home for the past two and a half months,
may be floated over a sandbar and back to sea on a specially
designed pontoon.
   National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) deputy director
Alastair Howard said the 10-tonne, 10-metre Brides whale had made
another break for the ocean yesterday but turned back once it
reached the sandbar at the mouth of the river.
   The young whale's latest attempt to find a way out of the river
confirmed it was increasingly keen to return to the sea, but
reluctant to cross the sandbar, Mr Howard said in a statement.
   The NPWS has considered a number of options to assist the whale,
consulting local and international experts.
   But fears for its health are increasing by the day as its
behaviour changes.
   "The whale is moving more erratically and spending more time at
the surface as the days progress," Mr Howard said.
   "While there is still some conjecture among scientists about its
health, the whale's changing behaviour is an indication to most
that its temporary home is causing some distress."
   The whale requires between 100 and 200 kilograms of food each
day, and NPWS workers have decided the risks involved in returning
the whale to its natural environment are outweighed by the risk of
leaving Willy in the river.
   This Friday NPWS workers will travel to Sea World on the Gold
Coast to look at a special submergable pontoon being developed
there for Willy and to decide whether it is suitable.
   Mr Howard said the whale was capable of swimming over the
sandbar which was covered by at least 2.5 metres of water at high
tide, but its memory of an earlier failed attempt to cross the sand
was holding it back.
   Sea World chief executive John Menzies said the $10,000
inflatable sling would be used to float the whale past the bar and
back out to sea.
Last week, the NPWS used boats and chimes in what turned out to be
a failed rescue operation to guide Willy back to the sea.
   The young whale, whose sex was unknown, had swum 12 kilometres
from Taree to the mouth of the river when it sighted the sandbars
where it became stranded four weeks ago.
   It panicked, swam under the guide boats and headed back up the
river.
The huge mammal was first seen struggling over a sandbar into the
mouth of the Manning on August 17.