A “strange noise” could recently be heard echoing across a stretch of Australia’s Sunshine Coast, cries from a distressed humpback whale, according to witnesses.
A whale calf was caught in a net and its mother stayed by its side, calling out in anguish or, some say, for help.
“If you heard a strange noise this morning at dawn and wondered what it was..this is your answer,” drone photographer Damian Coulter said in an Oct. 1 social media post, sharing video of the whales. “The distress calls of this mother whale crying for help to release her calf from the shark nets.”
Others reported hearing the whale’s calls.
“We all could hear the mother cry for help which was not a very pleasant sound,” photographer Glenn Reeves said in an Instagram post.
“First thing in the morning my wife was saying I can hear this big noise,” Reeves told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “You could hear it, it’s like a didgeridoo echoing through the whole headland.”
The whale’s cries didn’t go unanswered, as a vessel sailed out to the trapped whale and freed it, photos show.
“Both mother and baby swam away together,” Reeves said in the post.
The rescuers were sent by Fisheries Queensland, the government agency charged with managing Queensland’s waters, ABC reported.
Though many were happy to hear the whales were rescued, they said it shouldn’t have been necessary to begin with.
“Was such a horrible sound,” a commenter said. “Shark nets need to go.”
“The outcome was positive, but another showcase of the negative effects these nets have,” said another.
Shark nets are intended to act as a barrier to keep sharks away from beaches and therefore people, reducing the odds of an attack. The nets have been effective in this endeavor, according to the government of New South Wales.
However, environmentalists and others have criticized the practice, saying the nets are unnecessary, outdated and put sealife — such as whales — in danger, The Guardian reported.