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  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

Australia Tries to Save Humpback Whale Stranded in River with Crocodiles

SYDNEY – Australian authorities have been trying to save a stranded humpback whale in a crocodile-infested river in Kakadu National Park, in a remote area of northern Australia.

The mammal entered the river around the beginning of the month along with two other whales, but the whereabouts of the other two remain unknown.

The authorities believe that they may have returned to the sea or were submerged during the sightings.

The trio of humpback whales are believed to have lost their way on the migratory route between the Antarctic waters and warmer areas, or may have even entered the river out of curiosity.

The park authorities said its experts were prepared to intervene if necessary and protect the animal, which was first sighted with its companions on Sept. 2 by marine ecologist Jason Fowler on a fishing trip with friends around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the mouth of the river.

“The whale is not in distress at the moment and it is not an emergency situation. The best-case scenario is for the whale to make its way back out to sea,” the governmental organization Parks Australia, who are collaborating with the government of Northern Territory in the rescue effort, posted on Facebook.

Parks Australia said that on Friday it had set up an exclusion zone in Kakadu, after detecting the “unusual” presence of the three humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the East Alligator River, whose low-visibility waters are littered with saltwater crocodiles.

Northern Territory Government scientist Carol Palmer told ABC broadcaster on Monday that experts were considering the idea of placing a tracking device on the animal to track its movements or using whale calls and underwater noises to guide the whale back into the sea.

“There have been examples of whale calls being used before to influence where a whale goes. We are also looking at loud sounds to discourage the whale from heading further (upriver),” she said.

Australia’s humpback whale population, which has two migratory groups sailing along its west and east coasts, consists of 70,000 specimens, a number that has been on the rise owing to protective measures implemented by Australia.

 

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