A juvenile humpback whale has been caught in the Queensland government’s controversial shark nets off the Gold Coast, the seventh such incident this season.
Sea World and the Department of Fisheries launched rescue teams at around 6:30am this morning after being alerted to the incident.
The whale was released two hours after the report was received, although it remains unclear how long it was entangled.
Sea World reported the animal was in poor health, likely due to a bacterial infection causing a large abscess on its back.
A spokesperson for the theme park, Wayne Phillips, said while the whale did not appear stressed by its entanglement, he does "not hold much hope" that it will survive due to illness.
Ongoing calls for shark nets to be removed
In August, three whales were ensnared by the nets, which are known to kill dolphins, marine turtles and endangered sharks.
This prompted fresh calls for the nets to be removed, at least temporarily during migration season, a request the Queensland government has resisted.
That week, in a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Queensland Fisheries Minister, Mark Furner reaffirmed his commitment to the shark net program.
"Human life will always come first for the Palaszczuk Government," he said.
Call for Queensland to follow NSW's shark net lead
The Humane Society International’s Lawrence Chlebeck said today's entanglement was “no surprise” and they would continue until changes are made to the shark net program.
He pointed to research from the Queensland government’s Shark Control Program's Scientific Working Group which advised the nets be replaced with alternatives during migration.
“Queensland must listen to their experts and approach the issue of shark bite mitigation with reason and logic,” he said.
“What has happened to this poor calf is a tragic and confronting example of what is happening to wildlife off Queensland’s coast in the shark nets every day.”
The Australian Marine Conservation Society, a non-profit advocacy group, is concerned there are still two months of whale migration season left.
Its shark expert Dr Leonardo Guida warns Queensland is “falling further and further behind” reforms seen in other states, pointing to criticism of the devices in NSW.
Last week Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos backed calls for shark nets to be removed from Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach this summer.
Her call came after NSW Liberal MP Adam Crouch told Sky News shark nets “provide a false sense of security”.
“We’re seeing greater leadership and desire to improve beach safety from NSW than we are (from) the Queensland government,” Dr Guida said.
Sea World and DAF have been contacted for comment.
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