Many people in Canberra consider the South Coast of New South Wales as a second home. It is a commutable distance from Canberra, the climate is more temperate and the sea….
…..no wonder it is called the Sapphire coast!
A good friend and gardener extraordinaire, invited us to stay for a few days.
Her garden is full of colour, from bird antics….
to diverse shrubs……
Whenever we go down to the beach at this time of the year, we look out for a whale sighting
Each year, in late winter and spring this coastline is a route for migrating whales. They swim south from their northern breeding grounds to a summer of intense feeding in the Antarctic Ocean.
This migration has been going on for millennia with coastal Aboriginal people witnessing their passing and occasionally feasting on a beached whale.
With colonisation came the whaling industry which almost brought the whale population to extinction. Now that whales are protected, almost worldwide, the populations of whales have made a slow but steady recovery.
Montague Island is nearby, and the area is well known for being rich in krill and close to the continental shelf, making it a popular feeding ground for whales, especially female whales and feeding calves.
Unfortunately yesterday, a young Humpback whale (with its mother) had been spotted entangled in fishing tackle. As there were high winds, and its mother was naturally protective, it was impossible to attempt any rescue.
The Marine Parks Authority staff, the National Parks and Wildlife services and many volunteers became involved in the rescue attempt. They tied floatation Buoys to the fishing tackle around the calf to keep track of them and also to stop them from diving down.
When we took this photo they were waiting in an inflatable rescue boat alongside the mother and calf for an opportunity to cut the calf free.
While we waited we walked along the coastline……
And had a look at all the marine life along the jetty at Narooma…
and a little Sooty Oyster Catcher, looking as if he was made of black and orange velvet.
Just on dusk, we heard the team had managed to cut 150 metres of nylon fishing tackle from the young whale. They used hook-shaped knives on long poles, a dangerous operation.. as the NPWS operation coordinator said
“while conditions were good, agitated whales always make for a dangerous operation. It was very satisfying to see the calf re-join its mother and the pair continued to head south in the evening.”‘
I think a collective cheer must have rippled along the coast as people waited to hear the news…and what a brave rescue crew, facing an understandably agitated mother and calf whale.
A beautiful evening walk along the beach was made all the sweeter.