After being tangled in rope for an entire day, a humpback whale calf has been freed from its restraints on the NSW south coast.
The whale, swimming with its mother, was spotted off the coast of Batemans Bay on Monday afternoon by a helicopter pilot. Rescuers dashed to free the calf, but it was not until Tuesday morning the National Parks and Wildlife Service located the pair of whales.
Initial reports suggested the calf had become tangled in fishing nets, but the Batemans Bay Post has since reported it was in fact 150 metres of rope.
The whales were first spotted near Depot Beach, near Batemans Bay, but were finally found by by the National Parks and Wildlife Service off the coast of Narooma -- about 70 kilometres south -- on Tuesday. By the time rescuers had managed to cut the calf free from the rope, the whales had drifted to Bermagui, a further 30 kilometres south of Narooma.
NPWS spokeswoman Sarah Scroope told Fairfax Media the calf was set free from most of the rope between 5pm and 6pm on Tuesday evening.
“It is now free and swimming with its mum,” she said.
“The calf and the mother were still happy but the calf was beginning to show signs of becoming distressed."
Rescuers were unable to untangle all of the rope, however, with a small portion still wrapped around the calf's head and in its mouth.
“In this case, that was the hardest bit to free," Scroope said.
In a series of photos posted to Flickr, NPWS said the calf and mother had continued heading south after being freed.