Oceans

Hervey Bay residents, local authorities hopeful they have saved the life of beached dwarf whale

Hervey Bay residents and local authorities hope they have saved a whale that beached itself on the Fraser Coast this morning.

The dwarf minke whale was spotted at sunrise and prompted a rapid response and rescue.

“We spent a few hours here.

“A large team from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, police, Hervey Bay surf lifesaving club, people from the whale watching industry rushed in to save the whale, which returned a couple of times after we got him out to sea.”

The rescue took several hours, and the animal had superficial wounds on its body. ((Supplied: George Seymour)

As at 10am Friday morning, the whale was back in the ocean.

“He had superficial wounds and he didn’t seem very alert, but he’s got the best chance now he’s back out in the water,” the Mayor said.

Early start to whale season

Rangers and vet specialists say the whale appeared to be in good condition after being kept cool and calm with wet sheets, but could not say why it was stranded at Shelly Beach.

A small black whale returns to the ocean
Residents and authorities are hopeful the whale will survive now it has returned to open waters. ((Supplied: George Seymour)

Whale researcher Wally Franklin, from the Oceania Project, has studied whales in Hervey Bay for 30 years and said it was an unusual stranding.

“But it does occur. Over the years we’ve been involved in two minke strandings,” Dr Franklin said.

“They can come ashore if they are ill, they could be chased, or it may be a simple mistake.”

A man with a white beard and blue headscarf with a lighthouse in the background.
Wally Franklin says there are a number of reasons the whale could have washed ashore. ((ABC North Coast: Leah White)

Dr Franklin said it was inevitable more strandings would occur this season, especially for humpbacks.

“We can expect to see more with the east coast population somewhere in the order of 40,000 individual whales,” he said.

Dr Franklin said the first humpback sighting of the year had been early in May and the main flow of whales off the Fraser Coast would be from July to early November.

Whale well on its way home

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service senior ranger Daniel Clifton said the 4.6 meter whale was doing well in deeper water.

“I’ve just come back after being on the boat following the animal for a couple of hours and in the end we lost sight of it, which is a good sign,” he said.

The department has encouraged anyone who spots a stranded whale, alive or dead, to call 1300 130 372.

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