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Sick juvenile whale spotted in waters off Eden

February 21, 2023 8:24 am in by
Buzz-Paige-Thiedeman

South Coast locals and visitors are being asked to call ORRCA if they spot a sick juvenile humpback whale over the coming weeks.

The (approximate) seven metre whale was seen covered in sea lice in waters near Eden on Sunday, which had some sightseers alarmed.

“When you get the sun on it, it can look really red and some people say the whale is covered in blood but it’s not,” said Lee Mansfield from the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans (ORRCA).

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“It’s actually whale lice, which are like little crustaceans and they glow in the sun,” he said.

“That whale is sick, and why it’s sick is anyone’s guess but whales are mammals like us, so they get numerous diseases and injuries but based on photos we’ve seen, it doesn’t look to have any external injuries.”

Mr Mansfield said there have been reports on social media that the whale is a calf travelling without it’s mother but he said that was not the case.

“This humpback is probably three, four or five years old which makes it an indepedent juvenille, and it’s quite normal for them to swim north to the Great Barrier Reef by themselves at this time of year, a little earlier than adults,” Mansfield said.

The whale was last seen just after 5pm on Sunday (February 19), heading around the northern lookout area off Eden, travelling at around two to four knots which is a normal speed for a whale of that size and age.

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If you see this whale please call ORRCA on 02 9415 3333 as Mr Mansfield said it needs to be identified and assessed for injuries and general health by the ORRCA team.

Boaters and any persons on the water are asked to stay well clear of the whale if they happen to come across it.

In NSW powerboats, sailing boats and paddlecraft are legally required to keep a minimum distance from whales of: 100m, or 300m if there are calves and must travel at a constant slow speed and leave minimal wash within 300m of whales.

Image: Buzz Paige Thiedeman

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