Monday, August 8, 2011

Race to save baby whale beached at Australian surf mecca amid fears it won't live without mother's milk


Stranded: A beached week-old humpback whale calf lies on a beach in Surfers Paradise, Australia, as rescuers attempt to drag it back to the surf

Time is running out for a massive baby humpback whale which took a wrong turn at an Australian beach - and lost his mother.

The not-so-little lost boy, who weighs 1.5 tons and is thought to be just a week old, was discovered in the early hours of this morning, spurring a 10-hour rescue operation.

Rescue efforts: Rescue workers pour buckets of water over the beached calf as onlookers watch in the early hours of Monday morning

After a joint effort by rescue workers from Sea World, National Parks and Wildlife and the Gold Coast City Council life guards he was eventually pulled back into the water, only to become ensnared in a shark net just off shore.

Rescuers had to spend a further half an hour cutting the youngster free, and the calf swam off unharmed but will be tracked in the hope he can reunite with his mother.

There is a risk he could beach again if the family are not reunited soon.

Heavy work: Rescue workers had to call in heavy excavating equipment to dig a channel back to the water's edge

The marathon rescue operation began after the calf was discovered stranded on the beach, which is popular with surfers, at about 1am Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Using excavation equipment, rescuers dug a channel in the sand to the water's edge and a rope, attached to the calf by harness, was tied to a SeaWorld boat.

The boat and rescuers then dragged the 1,500kg juvenile, who had been kept wet with buckets of water, into the incoming tide as thousands of concerned beachgoers looked on.

Life savers: The calf was pulled along the channel by ropes connected to a harness and dragged by a Sea World boat

Rescuers help the whale back into the water

Nearly there: The humpback calf is helped back into the water by rescuers from the Sea World and the Queensland Department of Parks and Wildlife

Back off dry land: The calf flicks his tail fin as he returns to the water. He was promptly caught in a shark net

source: dailymail

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