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Flags fly at Mount Nelson once again


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Successful rescue of three sperm whales


The whale rescue team working to free a pod of male sperm whales trapped in Macquarie Harbour has been able guide three more to open water.

The team yesterday assisted two whales out of the harbour; today's result brings to five the number returned to the ocean.

"We found a whale swimming freely in the harbour this morning and escorted that out quite early but had to work to get the two others out of shallow water," said Wildlife and Marine Conservation Section manager Rosemary Gales.

The three released were guided out of the harbour in a south-westerly direction to reduce the chance of them being stranded on Ocean Beach.

"This is easily the most successful rescue of sperm whales anywhere in the world," said Doctor Gales.

"It is a huge achievement given the challenge of managing these large animals - which can measure up to 18 metres long and weigh around 25 tonne."

Two boats and their crews from the Tassal fish farm helped in the operation, deploying nets to assist the whales from the shallows.

"The boats and those on them have played a major role today in our efforts and I want to thank the crews for their contribution," said Doctor Gales.

This is the third time the net technique - developed in Tasmania - has been used successfully for whale rescues.

An observation aircraft will be sent aloft at first light tomorrow to check for any sign of the freed mammals.

Rescuers will then focus their efforts on the two surviving whales within the harbour.

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) has again asked the public to keep clear of three deceased whales at Braddon Point as well as one in water near Swan Basin and another south of the Kelly Channel.

"Once we are able to return all the survivors to open water efforts will be made to deal with the remains of the deceased," said PWS senior ranger Chris Arthur.

The whale rescue team includes officers of the Parks and Wildlife Service, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Wildlife and Marine Conservation Section of the Department of Primary Industries.