Humpback whales stray up tropical Australia river

SYDNEY: A trio of humpback whales – usually bound for Antarctica this time of year – took a wrong turn, heading up a crocodile-infested north Australian river with scientists hoping Saturday (Sep 12) they will all return to the sea safely.

Two of the creatures, first seen in the East Alligator River in Kakadu National Park earlier this week, are already believed to have gone back to the sea, Parks Australia said.

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But authorities were still monitoring at least one whale, spotted about 20km up the river on Saturday, Kakadu National Park manager of country and culture section Feach Moyle told AFP.

"The most likely explanation is that they were heading back down south and took a wrong turn," Moyle said.

"It's a bit difficult to tell if there's one or two there," he added, with the river's muddy colour making identification hard.

Although whales are sometimes seen off the Northern Territory coast, it is believed to be the first time one has been spotted in the tropical rivers of the huge world heritage-listed nature reserve, he said.

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Although whales are sometimes seen off the Northern Territory coast, it is believed to be the first time one has been spotted in the Kakadu National Park. (Photo: AFP/Carol Palmer)

Park authorities have set up a partial exclusion zone to protect unwitting boaters and any remaining whales, which can grow up to 16m long and weigh 30 tonnes.

"The last thing we want is a collision between a boat and whale in waters where crocodiles are prevalent and visibility underwater is zero," Parks AustraRead More – Source