Latest Aussie whale calf rescue fuels shark net debate

SYDNEY, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Marine rescuers freed a humpback whale calf caught in a shark net off Australia’s Gold Coast early Saturday, the second such incident in a month, fueling debates about the use of the nets, local media reported.

The whale calf was spotted in Queensland state’s Burleigh Heads coastal area and suffered “some superficial damage to its head but would recover in the wild,” the ABC news channel quoted marine park Sea World’s marine sciences director Trevor Long as saying.

The calf’s distressed mother was nearby throughout the rescue, he said.

In a separate incident, a whale calf was freed from a shark net earlier last month off the popular tourist region’s Greenmount beach, with Long calling it a “distressing” rescue, reported the channel.

The latest whale rescues “highlighted the need to update beach protection measures to minimize the harm to wildlife,” said Long. The shark nets, used to keep the top marine predators away from people, may not work as well as “smart” drumlines that can detect when an animal is caught, he said.

State marine authorities have been rolling out measures to catch and kill sharks after a 46-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl were severely bitten while swimming in the same northeastern harbor area late September, but animal welfare groups also condemned their use of baited drumlines to net the predators.

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