Subject: QLD: Baby whale freed after st
Wed, 16 Oct 96 11:57:00 GMT

QLD: Baby whale freed after stranding off Sunshine Coast

   By Malcolm Cole of AAP
   BRISBANE, Oct 16 AAP - A humpbacked whale calf, stranded in
shallow water off Queensland's Sunshine Coast, was reunited with
its mother this afternoon after a seven-hour rescue operation.
   Staff from Sea World on the Gold Coast and Underwater World on
the Sunshine Coast worked all morning to free the animal and were
finally successful shortly after midday.
   The whale and its mother had swum into a shark net off Point
Perry, a popular surf beach near Coolum, around 5am.
   They were carried north about one kilometre by the tide, and the
baby whale became trapped in shallow water.
   Coolum Beach Surf Lifesaving Club radio room staff member Chris
Rogers said early morning beachgoers managed to get the whale calf
back into deeper water, but it turned around and beached itself
   Staff from the two marine parks attached a sling to the animal
and towed it out to deeper water, but it returned to the beach
   Mr Rogers said a third attempt to refloat the animal was
successful and after turning a few circles in the water, the whale
headed out to sea to join its mother.
   Underwater World spokesman Kevin Tanner said the Sea World
helicopter and boat had followed the whale out to sea to ensure it
was swimming in the right direction and had been reunited with its
   The whale did not appear to be seriously injured, Mr Tanner
   "It had a few lacerations on its tail from the shark nets ...
but that's nothing really to a massive whale."
   Eyewitness Jim Barker, of Coolum, said police and emergency
services volunteers were called in to control a crowd of almost
2,000 that gathered on the beach to watch the rescue.
   Volunteers from the surf club had kept the whale upright and
comforted it throughout the ordeal, Mr Barker said.
   The incident sparked a call for the state government to conduct
an urgent review of the effectiveness of shark netting and shark
   Sunshine Coast Environment Council president Joe Ruiz-Avila said
a review was necessary to determine the number of non-target marine
animals that were caught in the nets, the costs and benefits of
netting, the dangers to swimmers and surfers and the real danger
posed by sharks.
   "Many environmentalists believe that there are other, less
dramatic methods of protecting beaches and these should be given
priority over a system that quite obviously is endangering our
marine environment," Mr Ruiz-Avila said.
   "We have to learn from our mistakes. Grey nurse sharks were much
maligned 20 to 30 years ago for targeting humans. Information now
available shows that this belief was greatly exaggerated.
   "A proper and full study of this situation, which at the same
time uses legitimate data, will find that the exercise of netting
is a disaster to our marine life and brings marginal protection
   "It may well prove that the impact of netting is a marketingexercise only,
giving consumers a false sense of security."