The effect that entanglements can have on cetaceans is a concern to the Australian Government. Most whales and dolphins are at risk from entanglements; as a result of rubbish, marine debris or marine industry activities.
Some large whale species (humpback whales and southern right whales) which make annual migrations to inshore Australian waters to breed and give birth are still making a gradual recovery from the impacts of whaling in the last century.
This recovery has coincided with a growth in coastal development, fishing activities, aquaculture and other off shore infrastructure. Much of this activity is within the migratory paths of these marine mammals. As a result there has been an increase in the reported incidence of whale entanglement in Australian waters in recent years. This issue is not confined to our region, with reports of whale entanglements on the increase throughout the world.
What is Australia doing about Entanglements?
Entanglement can cause serious injury and distress to the animals and may result in the animal dying. Government agencies coordinate activities to disentangle whales whenever possible. Disentangling a whale is a very skilful exercise and can also be dangerous. For this reason disentanglement training is essential to ensure government staff have the skills and expertise to perform this extremely important task. State governments run training courses and only trained government staff can assist in disentanglement operations.
To further reduce the long term risk of whale entanglements Australia is working with the commercial fishing industry to ensure that fishing equipment is whale and dolphin friendly.
Should you come across an entangled whale or dolphin, please report it to your State Environment Department as soon as possible.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DISENTANGLE ANY CETACEAN YOURSELF. REPORT THE INCIDENT AND STAY WITH THE ANIMAL AS LONG AS YOU CAN UNTIL TRAINED OFFICERS ARRIVE.
|Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment||
Ph: 0427 942 537
|Environment Protection Agency Animal Hotline||
Ph: 1300 130 372
|New South Wales|
|ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue||
Ph: 02 9415 3333
|National Parks and Wildlife Service||
Ph: 1300 650 411
Ph: 08 9474 9055
|Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline||
Ph: 1300 136 017
Ph: 1800 453 941
Floating rubbish such as plastic bags can be very harmful to whales and dolphins. Plastic bags can sometimes be mistaken by certain species for food. Baleen whales (filter feeders) swallow large amounts of water and then use the 'baleen' (fringes within their mouths) to filter out small fish and other food. Some whales have been known to accidentally swallow large amounts of plastic during feeding.
Another issue of concern is that whales and dolphins frequently become entangled in fishing gear and other marine debris. Every year in the worlds oceans large amounts of fish nets are lost at sea, these can remain afloat endangering wildlife for many years. Sometimes cargo or rigging from ocean going vessels fall overboard whilst at sea, these can pose threats to whales and dolphins such as entanglement or accidental swallowing.
Large whales, in particular humpback and southern right whales are prone to entanglement because they frequent inshore areas where the likelihood of encountering shark nets and fishing gear is higher than that for species occurring in deeper offshore waters. This can cause serious injury and distress to the animals. To further reduce the risk of whale entanglements Australia is working with the commercial fishing industry to ensure that fishing equipment is whale and dolphin friendly. Should you come across an entangled whale or dolphin, please report it to your State Environment Department as soon as possible.