Humpback whales spotted swimming in Australian river

Elias Hubbard
September 15, 2020

Three humpback whales made a wrong turn in Australia and ended up in a place where whales have never been seen before: a muddy, bendy river.

There have been no previous recorded sightings of whales in East Alligator River in the Northern Territory's World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. "After four hours of raging debate we agreed we were looking at humpback whales in a river", Fowler told ABC News. It's got zero visibility. "No vision. So you can only see whales when they're on the surface".

Marine ecologist Jason Fowler first spotted the whale with his biologist friends on September 2.

Mammals were spotted in the Timur Sea about 12 miles (20 km) from the mouth of the river.

Their size makes it impossible for any crocodile to try to attack them.

"When we saw the crocodiles from the helicopter, there was no interest whatsoever in the humpback whale", marine scientist Dr. Carol Palmer said. "It's a great success story for ocean conservation", Fowler added. "What's incredibly unusual is the fact that they have reached a muddy, shallow river full of crocodiles - that's unheard of".

Officials said if the whales don't voluntarily leave, they will be forced to coax them out of the river.

Mr Fowler said: "We spoke to the indigenous elders who spoke on behalf of the country in Kakadu and they said that the whale has no name".

"If the whale strands up on a sandbar or become injured somehow, that could kick start off the crocodiles, but it's a very big 14-meter whale", she said.

At least one whale remained in the river over the weekend and experts contemplated using recorded whale calls, or banging the sides of boats to lure the whale out. It is not recorded in their cultural history.

A number of whales have found their way to the River Thames in London, including Two a year ago.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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