Home / World / The humpback whale ran aground in the crocodile-infested river in Australia’s Kakadu National Park

The humpback whale ran aground in the crocodile-infested river in Australia’s Kakadu National Park

In a “very unusual” event, three of the animals entered the East Alligator River in Kakadu National Park last week.

The animals were first spotted on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the park in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) told CNN.

Since then, park staff have closely monitored a whale, which appears to be stranded. The spokesperson said the other two are thought to have left the area, though the rangers can’t be completely sure.

While scientists can’t say for sure what happened, they believe a “wrong turn” is the most likely explanation, the spokesperson said.

An exclusion zone was immediately introduced at the mouth of the river at a point just under 20 miles upstream “for the welfare of the whale and for the safety of people who may have thought of traveling to the area by boat,”
; the park published. . Facebook Friday.

“As far as we know, this is the first time this has happened,” he said.

“We are monitoring the situation and working with NT government authorities to collect data on this unusual event, and a working group of experts has been established to monitor the whale and prepare action plans if necessary.

“The last thing we want is a collision between a boat and a whale in waters where crocodiles are prevalent and underwater visibility is zero. We also don’t want boats to inadvertently push the whale higher in the river.

“The whale is not in danger at the moment and it is not an emergency situation. The best case scenario is that the whale returns to the sea.

“Scientists from Kakadu National Park and the NT government will continue to monitor the whale in the coming days. We appreciate that this is a very unusual and exciting event, however, our priority at the moment is to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors. and the whale. “

Three whales were first seen in the river, but experts believe there is only one left.

Most of the water bodies within the park are inhabited by saltwater crocodiles, ambush predators known to attack and kill humans. Despite their name, they can also be found more than 100 miles upstream from the coast in freshwater habitats.

According to the park’s guidelines for visitors, crocodiles can remain hidden underwater for long periods and can move around with great stealth and camouflage. They are fast-acting and are known to move at speeds of up to 40 feet per second.

On Monday, park staff met with experts to discuss the best way to help the whale if needed.

Carol Palmer, senior scientist in the NT government, said, “The Northern Territory government is working closely with the traditional staff and owners of Kakadu National Park, as well as other highly experienced experts, to ensure that we give to the whale the best chance of returning to the sea. “

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Feach Moyle, head of Kakadu’s Country and Culture Section, said in a statement to CNN: “The whale continues to appear safe and sound, which is giving us time to make sure we weigh all available options and associated risks. options range from minimal intervention as we continue to monitor the whale, to actively intervening to attempt to support the animal out of the river.

“The highest tide of the year will take place in a few weeks, so there is a window of opportunity for you to take to the sea. We continue to consult with experts and our experienced Park staff to ensure that our plans are workable and safe. both for the whale and for those involved in the operation.

“We are also looking into a number of options for mapping the river bed to find the deepest channel through which the whale could travel to the sea and are seeking advice from staff who are most familiar with this river.”

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According to the International Whaling Commission, humpback whales live in all major oceans of the world. The species is known for its spectacular “surfactant behavior,” which can include pouncing, pinball and tail slapping, and its complex “song,” which is heard in spawning grounds in the tropics, the commission says on its website.
According to the park’s website, Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu has been placed on the double UNESCO World Heritage List for its outstanding natural and cultural values.

It is home to many animal species, including crocodiles and flatback turtles. It also describes itself as a “living cultural landscape” as its archaeological sites record the skills and lifestyle of indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years.

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