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Whale caught in Snapper Rocks shark net released but still partly entangled

A whale that spent the day trapped in a Gold Coast shark net could not be completely disentangled before it was released, officials have said.

Workers from Sea World and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries tried for much of Wednesday to free the young humpback from its predicament at Snapper Rocks, on the southern end of the Gold Coast.

But in an evening update, the rescue team said it could not completely remove the animal from the shark net.

“(The team) was unable to completely disentangle it from shark control equipment,” an Agriculture and Fisheries spokesman said.

The humpback was first spotted at 7am, a few hundred metres offshore.

The rescue team worked tirelessly throughout the day but had to release the whale off Coolangatta without completely freeing it from the net due to difficult conditions at sea.

“Along with Sea World, the team has worked in choppy conditions and done all they could to support the whale,” shark control program manager Michael Mikitis said.

“Tens of thousands of whales migrate along our coast every year and we have an outstanding record of successfully releasing any that become entangled.

“In 2020, there were just six whales entangled and all were successfully released.”

Humane Society International said that year after year, whales were falling victim to shark nets during their migration season.

“Scientists and experts employed by Queensland’s shark control program have told the minister the shark nets should be removed during whale migration season,” marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said.

“Why isn’t the minister heeding the advice of his experts?”

The Humane Society has been calling on the Queensland government to transition to “newer technologies” that keep swimmers safe and do not have significant environmental impacts.

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