Struggle to remove humpback carcass
WHALE watching pioneer Jill Perry says tour operators are endangering the very creatures their industry relies upon.
The owner of Hervey Bay Whale Watch is devastated by the number of humpbacks, particularly calves, which have washed up along the south-east coast during this year's migration.
Three humpbacks have beached themselves on Fraser Island this season and other deaths have been reported in Gold Coast waters.
Most recently, a dead male humpback crashed into a man-made swimming enclosure at a Sydney beach on Wednesday morning.
While rough seas could be to blame for the Sydney beaching, Ms Perry said every death should serve as a reminder for operators to be "so very careful" when sharing the waters with the whales.
Her main concern was that whale-watching operators in North NSW and some parts of Queensland were getting too close to the whales while they were on the move up north and preparing to give birth to their calves.
While she accepted her views may seem a little biased, Ms Perry was adamant the protected waters of Hervey Bay were the only place where the whales actually rested with their young but it was clear this season that, by the time some arrived, the damage had already been done.
"The most recent whale to wash up on Fraser Island was a very young calf with the umbilical cord still attached," Ms Perry said
"Whales and, in particular, pregnant female whales are being harassed on their northern migration and it's causing them unnecessary stress.
"If they don't stay away from them in open ocean, there are going to be problems."
On Wednesday night, marine experts were still struggling to remove a 30-tonne humpback carcass from the Newport Beach enclosure.
Bulldozers were on standby and there was talk of the pool wall being demolished.
The beach will remain closed until the carcass is gone due to the risk of shark attack.