Rescuers free whale entangled in rope

A HUMPBACK whale which became entangled in nylon rope - probably from a fishing trap off Byron Bay - was freed by rescuers just before 4pm yesterday.

National Parks and Wildlife spokesman Lawrence Orel said reports about the whale came through just after first light when it was spotted by beachgoers off Byron Bay's Main Beach.

By 9am more than 100 people had descended on Main Beach hoping to get a glimpse of the distressed mammal.

Mr Orel said National Parks staff in a Marine Parks boat shadowed the whale until rescuers from Queensland arrived just after 1pm.

"The crews are trying to assess the extent of that entanglement and what might be the options for removing it," he said.

During the day the whale moved north around the bay to Belongil and Tyagarah before it turned south just before 1pm.

Mr Orel said the rescue crew launched from The Pass about 1.45pm and made its way to the whale, which by then was about 2km off Cape Byron and still moving south.

"By 4pm the crew had successfully disentangled the whale, which had moved to due east of Tallow Creek," he said.

"The whale was about 2km south of Cape Byron when it was freed."

The whale was entangled in more than 30 metres of rope, Mr Orel said.

"There was a buoy and at least 30 metres of 12mm nylon rope," he said.

"It was possibly fishing gear from a fishing trap, but at this stage we are unsure."

Throughout the day, Mr Orel said the juvenile humpback was approached by another humpback whale and a calf, prompting reports the calf was fretting for its mother.

"The whale was approached by a couple of animals during the day but it was determined it was on its own," he said.

Now that it is free, Mr Orel said the outlook for the whale was good.

"The whale was last seen swimming freely and its prognosis is good now that the material has been removed," he said.

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