Whales freed from Queensland’s controversial shark nets

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The whales were tangled in nets off the Gold Coast in Australia  ( Dr Leonardo Guida/Twitter)
The whales were tangled in nets off the Gold Coast in Australia ( Dr Leonardo Guida/Twitter)

Two whales entangled in shark nets on the coast of Queensland in Australia were freed after several hours of struggle.

The two humpbacks were at Kirra beach on the Gold Coast and Marcoola beach on the Sunshine Coast. The nets are designed to reduce the likelihood of shark attacks on swimmers but critics say they present a serious risk to other marine life.

Teams from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Sea World were able to free the whales, which were not harmed, from the nets.

Conservation groups have urged Queensland’s government to remove shark nets during whale migration season.

Humane Society International marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck told Yahoo News Australia the government’s own scientific experts have suggested a trial to remove the nets during the winter months.

“Each year that the advice is not acted on will only see more whales entangled,” he said.

"It makes no sense because everyone knows the nets are outdated and not effective at reducing the risk of shark bite to humans.

“All they do is cause unnecessary injury and death to migrating whales and other precious wildlife.”

A spokesperson for Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries told the Guardian that it will not remove the nets until “proven” alternatives are available.

“The risk of whales becoming entangled in shark nets during the annual whale migration season historically is low. Although an estimated 40,000 whales migrate along Queensland’s coastline each year, on average, only six whale entanglements are reported.

“Since 2013, there have been 57 entanglements with 55 whales released alive,” the spokesperson said.

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