A humpback whale who got lost in a river in the Northern Territories is to be guided out by officials. The whale, along with two others, would have been on their annual sea migration and experts believe they were separated from the rest of the group. While two of the whales managed to swim out of the river, one remains in the crocodile infested waters of NT.
Spotted by boaters
The lost whales were initially spotted by boaters in Kakadu National Park who were sailing on the East Alligator River. Because the water is murky and muddy, it was initially difficult to tell if there was more than one whale, and experts have been left shocked that the creatures could have gotten so far inland.
Whales migrate to warmer waters
The reason why the whales ended up in the river is likely due to them taking a wrong turn during their annual migration. Whales mate and give birth in the warm waters around Australia, then in winter, they head to Antarctica to breed. That’s why you can go whale watching Sydney during the winter months, as you’ll see them heading south. However, in this instance, experts believe they entered an estuary which took them off stream, so they became lost.
Crocodiles not thought to be a danger
As the name implies, East Alligator River is full of dangers. One of the areas, Cahill Crossing, is notorious for crocodile attacks, and tourists have been killed by crocs. However, it’s not thought they pose a danger to the whale, unless it becomes trapped in the shallow areas, in which case, there may be a risk of an attack.
Officials are trying to help the whale
At the moment, the priority for experts is to get the whale back into the ocean, but unfortunately, it’s currently staying put in the deeper river areas. Currently around 20km from the coast, officials have been trying to encourage it back into the ocean by banning boats, so it has a clear path. Other options might be to play whale recordings to coax it into the right place.
Whales are the last thing you expect to see in a river, but they can get lost at times and need coaxing back on track. If you want to see a whale up close, consider booking a whale watching tour, as you’re much more likely to get a good look.