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Whale researchers urge permanent protection for white whale


19 August 2003
Researchers at the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre have urged the Queensland Environment Minister to declare a permanent exclusion zone of 500 metres around the white whale Migaloo if it has survived a weekend encounter with a trimaran off Townsville.

Director of the Whale Research Centre, Associate Professor Peter Harrison, said today that it was uncertain whether the whale would survive being hit by one of the yacht’s daggerboards.

“The concern is that this may have been a fatal encounter if the daggerboard had damaged vital organs including the lungs or the kidneys,” Professor Harrison said.

“These are very large animals and we have seen them survive with quite serious wounds. However, we know so little about the Humpback that we can’t be certain in these matters,” he said.

“It’s natural that there is curiosity about a white whale, but that shouldn’t be allowed to threaten the life of the animal. If this whale has survived, we must do everything possible to protect it and give it a chance to recover and then to live without constant harassment,” Professor Harrison said.

“The Minister, Dean Wells, moved quickly to impose a temporary exclusion zone around this whale when it migrated into Queensland waters, and we fully support the timeliness of his actions. Now we recommend that the exclusion zone be made permanent to protect this unique humpback whale. Similar restrictions should apply in New South Wales waters, on its southern and subsequent migrations,” he said.
19 August 2003

Further Information: Chris Stewart 0418 431484