Humpback whale Australia, Up croc creek without a paddle.
A team of whale experts from around Australia are considering how to shepherd two humpback whales out of Kakadu’s East Alligator River, as concerns mount over the risk of a possible stranding.
Northern Territory Government scientist Dr Carol Palmer is part of the emergency response to guide the whales out of the river.
In an interview with ABC Radio Darwin, Dr Palmer said a team of experts was looking into the use of whale calls and also underwater noise pollution to encourage the wales back out to sea.
“There have been examples of whale calls being used before to influence where a whale goes. We are also looking at loud sounds to discourage the whale from heading further [upriver],” she said.
The NT team will try to tag one of the whales to better monitor its movement in the coming days before deciding on what interventions will be required.
“Then, I think, based on that information, the next step will be to try and see if we can, from a 100 per cent safety perspective, move the whale out into Van Diemen’s Gulf,” Dr Palmer said.
The humpbacks were first spotted by local marine biologist Jason Fowler on September 2, while he was out fishing with friends on his yacht, the Shaguar.
Mr Fowler said he spent four hours furiously debating with his friends, who are all biologists, on whether they were actually seeing humpbacks.
It is the first time in recorded history that humpbacks have been seen 20 kilometres upriver in Kakadu.
Three humpbacks were initially spotted, but it is believed one has since returned to sea.
An exclusion zone for all boats is in place for 30 kilometres upstream from the river mouth