A young humpback whale, who was estimated to be about a week old, was found stranded on a beach in Australia early Monday morning. Many people came to his rescue by using heavy equipment to dig a channel and then waited for the tide to rush in. They used a harness with ropes tethered to two jet skis to tow the whale into deeper waters.
The entire effort took about ten hours. The youngster then became entangled in shark nets almost immediately after being towed into the sea. It took another half hour to free him of the nets. The rescue was a joint effort between Sea World, National Parks and Wildlife and the Gold Coast City Council lifeguards.
Scientists will monitor his progress to ensure the whale finds his mother. At his tender age, the whale won’t survive for very long without his mother’s milk.
It is not known how this baby whale was separated from his mother, but blood work was taken to check for any medical condition that may explain it. Photos taken of a whale and calf swimming off the Gold Coast on Sunday will be compared to photos of the beached baby whale to determine if he is the same calf.
UPDATE: The baby humpback whale that was rescued from a beach in Australia on Monday was found to have beached himself again, this time at Moreton Island on Wednesday. The original team involved with the rescue attempt flew by helicopter and was able to confirm this was the same baby whale.
According to the Brisbane Times, the condition of this baby whale was quite poor and the decision was made to euthanize him. A baby whale this young cannot survive in the wild without his mother for nourishment and protection, and to learn vital social and migratory behavior.
“The Sea World team is deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank the public for their concern for the whale calfî said Trevor Long, Sea World Director of Marine Sciences. Sea World was one of the organizations that provided scientists to assist with Mondayís rescue attempt.
Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes to this beautiful little creature.
Photo credit: Bunny & Norm Lenburg via flickr