Special buoys deployed off Aussie coast to rescue whales from fishing gear

SYDNEY, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Scientists and marine wildlife specialists in Western Australia state have developed buoys to help track and rescue whales that get entangled in fishing gear, amid the annual highly anticipated mass migration of the animals along the coast, authorities said on Thursday.

The technology allows parks and wildlife staff to remotely monitor the real-time location of whales before disentangling them if necessary, according to a government statement. At least 10 of the devices have been placed between the state's Esperance and Broome areas, including three off state capital Perth.

About 35,000 whales are currently migrating from Antarctic waters to calving areas off the state's northern Kimberley region, which regularly attracts many whale-watching tourists, the state's Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said.

It was previously "extremely difficult" to find an entangled whale off the Western Australia coast once it was lost from sight, and some opportunities to rescue the cetaceans "were missed as it was unsafe to attempt disentanglement due to poor weather and light," he said.

"This new technology allows time for disentanglements to be carried out in safe weather conditions and with sufficient daylight, while being aware of the whale's location at all times," Dawson said.

While whale disentanglements from lobster fishing gear alone have steadily fallen from 17 in 2013 to six last year due to gear modification, "it is pleasing to see that the rock lobster industry is showing its commitment to protecting whales" by helping to fund the buoys, the state's Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said.

"The development and deployment of this technology demonstrates the state government's commitment to working with the fishing industry to investigate new measures to minimize entanglements along the coast," he said.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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