Queensland's 'outdated' shark nets entangle two migrating whales

Two whales migrating north along Queensland’s coast have been ensnared by shark nets in separate incidents on Tuesday.

These are the third and fourth entanglements to occur since June.

Sea World is attending to a whale stranded at Kirra on the Gold Coast, while Fisheries Queensland staff have attempted to free another on the Sunshine Coast, near Marcoola.

Helicopter footage of fisheries crews attempting to help a whale caught in shark nets on the Sunshine Coast.
Fisheries crews attempted to help a whale caught in shark nets on the Sunshine Coast. Source: Channel 7

Conservation groups have urged Queensland’s government to remove shark nets during migration season, as they are known to kill and harm whales.

Humane Society International marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck noted the government’s own scientific experts have advised in favour of a trial to remove the nets during the winter months.

“Each year that the advice is not acted on will only see more whales entangled,” he said.

"It makes no sense because everyone knows the nets are outdated and not effective at reducing the risk of shark bite to humans.

“All they do is cause unnecessary injury and death to migrating whales and other precious wildlife.”

Sea Shepherd, a vocal critic of the shark control program, called the nets "pointless".

Today, not one but two whales have been caught in Queensland’s cruel and outdated shark nets and once again, this entire situation could have been prevented," Sea Shepherd's Jonathan Clark said.

Government working to free two whales caught in nets

Queensland’s Department of Fisheries (DAF) confirmed teams are using “specialised equipment” to remove the net from a whale at Marcoola.

They are also working with a crew from Sea World to assist the whale at Kirra.

Their shark control operations manager Sam Fary said both whales appeared to be calm and still breathing.

Back of the head of a Sea World rescuer looking at a whale in the distance during a rescue operation.
A whale became entangled in shark nets off Surfers Paradise in June. Source: Sea World

On June 16, when the first whale of the season became entangled, DAF said protection of human life is its “first priority”.

They promised to resurrect any nets which were damaged by the whale.

Critics of the government’s shark control program say the nets are ineffective and give beachgoers a false sense of security.

The nets are known to kill a number of non-target species including marine turtles and dolphins.

Anyone who sees a marine animal caught in shark netting is urged to call the 24-hour Shark Hotline on 1800 806 891.

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