Stranded whales on on Bookar Island, on the western side of Fraser Island.
Stranded whales on on Bookar Island, on the western side of Fraser Island. NPRSR

Rangers using whale's carcass to try to lead pod north

EVENING UPDATE: A Marine Parks vessel is towing the carcass of one of the two killer whales that died after becoming stranded on sand banks yesterday in an effort to lead the rest of the pod into deeper water.

QPWS rangers have monitored the killer whales in Hervey Bay today. None re-stranded; however, a pod stayed around Deep Creek all day.  

It was hoped towing the deceased animal north might  lure the pod into the open bay and away from the shallows where they could re-strand.

The vessel will moor overnight and go further north tomorrow at first light into deeper, more open waters. It's hoped the killer whales will follow.

A 300m exclusion zone around the killer whales has been established for all vessels.

The other deceased whale, an adult, has been removed from the water completely.

QPWS is receiving advice from orca experts throughout Australia and New Zealand.

AFTERNOON UPDATE: A team of six Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers is travelling with the killer whales that became stranded on Wednesday.

QPWS acting regional director Sunshine and Fraser Coast Peter Wright said the whales were travelling in a northerly direction which was a good sign.

About 12.30pm, he said the pod was moving quite slowly and was not quite past Woody Island yet.

Mr Wright said they would feel better once the pod had moved past Woody Island into deeper water.

He said water police and fisheries officers had also been monitoring the whales.

Mr Wright confirmed a veterinary crew from Sea World on the Gold Coast was on its way to assist the rangers.

He said a necropsy would be performed on Thursday afternoon on the adult female that died and a necropsy would be performed on the calf with her either on Thursday night or Friday.

MORNING UPDATE: An aerial search of the Great Sandy Strait has been carried out on Thursday morning by rangers from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and they found no signs of any whales being re-stranded.

Seven killer whales were stranded in the Strait on Wednesday, two on Bookar Island and five at Sheridan Flats, where they had become stuck on a sandbar.

The two whales on the island died, but the five at Sheridan Flats were cared for by rangers until the high tide came in and allowed them to swim free.

QPWS acting regional director Sunshine and Fraser Coast Peter Wright said rangers would continue to monitor a pod of whales that remain near Deep Creek.

"A 300m exclusion zone around the whales is being established for all water vessels," he said.

"QPWS is receiving advice from orca experts throughout Australia and New Zealand."

A dead killer whale calf floating in the Great Sandy Strait near Fraser Island on Wednesday.
A dead killer whale calf floating in the Great Sandy Strait near Fraser Island on Wednesday. Andrew Chorley

EARLIER: The high tide came to the rescue of five killer whales stranded on a sandbank at low tide while swimming through the Great Sandy Strait near Fraser Island.

Two other whales in the pod died when they became stranded on Bookar Island, south-west of Ungowa.

The remaining whales were found at Sheridan Flats on Wednesday morning.

The group included four adult whales, measuring between 6m and 7m, and a juvenile about 4m long.

A crew from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service helped keep the animals alive until high tide.

The whales were then able to pull themselves off the sandbank in the afternoon.

It was reported that four other whales were waiting for them to rejoin the pod.

The rescue operation to save killer whales stranded near Fraser Island. Photo: Ten News
The rescue operation to save killer whales stranded near Fraser Island. Photo: Ten News

QPWS Acting Regional director Sunshine and Fraser Coast Peter Wright said the rangers had kept the whales comfortable with water and shade while waiting for the tide to rise.

He said conditions had been difficult, with winds between 20 knots and 25 knots.

The pod then started to swim into deeper water.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said it was a tragic event.

"It's one of those strange twists of nature," he said.

"I applaud the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service."



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