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Visitor safety under the spotlight in new walker safety video


Visitor safety in Tasmania's national parks and reserves has received a major investment with a suite of projects, including a new feature video on bushwalking preparation and safety.More

Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018


The Parks and Wildlife Service has released the Draft Recreation Zone Plan 2018 for the Frenchmans Cap area.More

Redeveloped Lake Tahune Hut now open


A locally designed and built, energy-efficient and sustainable hut is now welcoming bushwalkers at Lake Tahune on the Frenchmans Cap Track in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.More

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales


DPIPWE crews are continuing to work with personnel from Macquarie Harbour salmonid farms to free the remaining three whales trapped inside Hells Gates on Tasmania’s West Coast.

Crews made another early start on day three of the rescue operation buoyed by Sunday’s effort which resulted in two sperm whales being shepherded through the treacherous 25 metre entrance of Macquarie Harbour and into the open sea.

Two deceased minke whales have been found in Macquarie Harbour this morning. One of them, a five-metre whale, is the animal discovered yesterday. The other deceased animal was smaller at three metres.

Public interest in the event is intense and Incident controller Chris Arthur has been bombarded by media calls since stranding was first reported on Saturday.

Between 6am and 8.30 am this morning he had completed seven interviews and calls continue to come in from interstate and overseas as well as from local news outlets.

In between these commitments he juggled a 7.30am briefing session for crews before they hit the water in six vessels in less than ideal conditions.

About 25 DPIPWE staff from Parks and the Resource Management and Conservation branch are focusing their efforts in the water and on Ocean Beach where samples are being taken of 22 deceased sperms.

Chris said valuable lessons learned from a stranding of sperm whales in Macquarie Harbour in 2007 are assisting the current mission.

“The rescue crews are doing a great job using techniques that have been perfected over many years,” he said.

“Fortunately we have had tremendous assistance from the Petuna and Tassal fish farms and their shallow-draught jetboats have been able to get close to the stranded whales. Their engines create a water surge and break the suction created between the whales and sand.

 “Once an animal is dislodged, a specially-developed net attached to two boats is slipped under the whale enabling it to be hauled from immediate danger. This method is particularly suitable for large animals such as the two-tonne sperm whales we are dealing with.”

Chris said the system proves the value of learning from past stranding situations and maintaining a knowledge base and science to assist animals in distress.”

Once an animal is dislodged from the sand and is mobile, it is herded towards Macquarie Harbour’s deep water channel and then to the open ocean via the tricky entrance at Hells Gates. To keep the whale on track, crews create engine wake and “walls of sound” by banging the side of the boats.  

While time is of the essence, the surviving minke whale and two sperm whales are in reasonable condition and, managed properly, could survive another few days in the harbor.

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales

Incident controller Chris Arthur talks whales during a phone interview with the media.

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales

Natasha Norman prepares lunch for the boat crews.

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales

Mike Greenwood briefs boat crews for the day ahead.

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales

Steve Mansfield and James Grey tag a deceased sperm whale on ocean beach.

Cooperative effort to free remaining trapped whales

Rescue boats at work in Macquarie Harbour with two sperm whales.