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Rescue mission for trapped whale at Wattamolla is a success

After an hours-long rescue mission on Sydney’s south coast, a whale caught up in fishing debris has been freed. The whale, believed to be a three-year-old seven-metre humpback, became tangled about 400m off the shore at Wattamolla in Sydney’s south early on Monday afternoon but was cut free within just a few hours.National Parks and…

After an hours-long rescue mission on Sydney’s south coast, a whale caught up in fishing debris has been freed.

The whale, believed to be a three-year-old seven-metre humpback, became tangled about 400m off the shore at Wattamolla in Sydney’s south early on Monday afternoon but was cut free within just a few hours.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) led the rescue operation with the help of Marine Rescue NSW.

NPWS large whale disentanglement incident controller Brendan Neilly said two disentanglement teams were needed to try to save the animal, which had been caught in netting at both ends.

“The whale was first reported in possible distress earlier this morning, and NPWS were monitoring the animal before the disentanglement team undertook a closer assessment of the risks and (determined) if the operation could proceed,” Mr Neilly said.

“The whale was entangled at both the head and the tail, making this a more complex operation.

“Once crews attached a line to the animal, they were able to work quickly to make the strategic cuts that allowed the whale to swim free.

“We are delighted we could safely free this whale which appears to be swimming freely and able to continue its journey south.”

A devastating image from the water taken earlier in the day showed the massive whale covered in what appeared to be netting.

A NPWS spokeswoman told NCA NewsWire a whale expert was also being deployed to assist with the rescue mission, but there could be no guarantee of success.

“Expert NPWS disentanglement teams are being deployed to assist the whale if it is safe to do so,” she said.

These operations are inherently dangerous and crews will do everything possible to help the whale; however, the safety of crews is paramount.”

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