SYDNEY, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- A baby whale has been freed from netting in a dramatic rescue off the coast of Sydney on Friday, with the distressed youngster and protective mother posing a serious challenge for rescue crews.
The humpback calf is believed to have became entangled almost a week ago in one of the anti-shark nets which line much of Australia's eastern coastline, dragging the heavy burden hundreds of kilometers as it continued to migrate south with its mother.
Authorities located the pair roughly one kilometer off Sydney's Bilgola Beach early on Friday morning and dispatched rescue crews from the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australian (ORRCA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
As the specially trained rescue crews closed in on the baby, the mother whale became visibly agitated, slapping her tail against the surface of the water.
Carefully a three person team approached the calf in a small dinghy and in an operation lasting roughly an hour, cut the debris free, leaving mother and child to continue their journey south to Antartica.
Already this year up to seven whales have become tangled in nets on the east coast of Australia, relying on rescue teams to cut them free.
Humane Society International (HSI) Marine Campaigner Lawrence Chlebech told Xinhua that the nets pose an extreme hazard for marine species and provide no additional protection for humans against shark attacks.
"They really are just out there as a perception of safety, these aren't providing any sort of safety whatsoever to human beings," Chlebech said.
"The programme in New South Wales has been running since the 1930s, so we've made so much progress in technology and on our understanding of shark behaviour that there's much better ways to protect people in the water," Chlebech said.
HSI advocates for an end to the netting program and to instead educate the public on how to minimize the risk of a shark encounter.