New appeals for more “humane” shark confinement techniques have been made in response to the capture of another whale in shark netting off the coast of Queensland.
Following reports to the 24-hour Shark hotline at 6.30am on Friday, the whale was freed at 9am by personnel from Sea World and the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol.
The humpback whale was the third whale in Queensland to become caught in shark nets this week, with two of those incidents occurring at Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast. It was this year’s fifth whale entanglement off the coast of Queensland.
“Another whale becomes caught in the same shark net on the same beach in less than 72 hours. It’s no longer funny, according to Dr. Leonardo Guida of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, a shark expert who was present this morning.
The evidence for removing the nets, according to Guida, is “overwhelming,” and he considered it “unbelievable” that whale entanglement incidents were still permitted to occur annually.
Shark nets won’t be removed until alternatives have “proved fit for Queensland conditions,” the Queensland government stated in a statement to the Guardian. Alternatives being tested include acoustic pingers, catch alert drumlines, and drones.
The Queensland government made a point of noting how few of the 40,000 humpback whales that migrate up the coast each year become entangled and how most of them were freed.
As a scientist, I understand the necessity for testing and evaluation, but these technologies are tried and true and have been used in New South Wales and WA for a long time, Guida said. “A point comes where you have to quit trying to reinvent the wheel.”
The resistance to take down the nets may be “politically driven,” according to Vanessa Pirotta, a postdoctoral researcher and wildlife biologist at Macquarie University. This is especially true given that researchers are still trying to figure out why shark attacks have tripled since 1971.
She stated that there was a dichotomy between the perception of public safety created by their presence and the possibility that their removal would raise some concerns. “On the one hand, we want to give people a sense of security, but on the other, nobody wants to become entangled.
The sharks can swim around and beneath them, so they don’t completely cover the entire beach, in fact. They use outmoded technology, which has a multitude of negative effects on marine life.
According to Pirotta, educating locals and beachgoers on the ineffectiveness of the nets might significantly advance the cause.
“Good news! The humpback population is recovering. And indeed, it is unlikely that a few entanglements will cause this population to decline much,” she added. However, there is still a concern for the wellbeing of the individual animals, as they are subjected to cruel and immoral treatment.
There was recent evidence of a southern right whale and calf in those seas, so it’s not just humpback whales that frequent those regions. One’s life could be in danger if they were to become entangled.
Only roughly 3,500 southern right whales were expected to remain in the water, according to the WWF.
There had been 57 entanglements since 2013, with 55 whales being freed alive.
Call the Shark hotline at 1800 806 891 if you see a whale or other marine animal caught in shark netting or drumlines.
Lead Image: Teams from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Sea World free a humpback whale caught in shark nets at Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast. Photograph: Jacqueline Scott Photography. This article by Khaled Al Khawaldeh was first published by The Guardian on 8 July 2022.
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