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Experts' plan to save humpback whale stranded in crocodile-infested waters in Northern Territory

Authorities are planning to pull a pod of stricken humpback whales stranded in crocodile-infested waters in the Northern Territory back to safety. 

Wildlife officers at the Kakadu National Park will use special whale calls and underwater noise pollution to try and rescue the whales from the East Alligator River.  

The animals were spotted by marine ecologist Jason Fowler while sailing with friends on September 2. 

Experts are unsure whether the other two are still located nearby due to murkiness of the water.

‘It’s so murky you can’t see them until they’re up out of the water,’ Mr Fowler said on Tuesday. 

Wildlife officers at the Kakadu National Park are continuing to explore intervention options with experts to save a humpback whale from crocodile-infested waters (pictured) after it ventured up the East Alligator River with two others

Wildlife officers at the Kakadu National Park are continuing to explore intervention options with experts to save a humpback whale from crocodile-infested waters (pictured) after it ventured up the East Alligator River with two others 

It is understood to be the first time a humpback has been spotted so far up the waterway, with one report placing it 30km inland. 

Park staff and scientists have blocked off the area to boats and are hoping the whale will swim back out to sea but may have to intervene, if required. 

Kakadu National Park zoologist Feach Moyle said: ‘The highest tide of the year will take place in a few weeks so there is a window of opportunity for it to be able to head out to sea.’

Northern Territory Government scientist Dr Carol Palmer, who is part of the emergency response guide to get the whales out of the ‘unusual’ situation, told ABC Radio Darwin the team was looking at using whale calls to lure it out to sea.

An exclusion zone (pictured) to stop boats entering has now been put in place from the mouth of the East Alligator River to a point approximately 30km upstream

An exclusion zone (pictured) to stop boats entering has now been put in place from the mouth of the East Alligator River to a point approximately 30km upstream

The team was also looking at using underwater noise pollution to encourage the mammals to move on, she said.

‘There have been examples of whale calls being used before to influence where a whale goes. We are also looking at loud sounds to discourage the whale from heading further [upriver],’ she said, ABC reported. 

The team will attempt to tag one of the whales to monitor its movement better in coming days before making a decision on what to do.

‘Then, I think, based on that information, the next step will be to try and see if we can, from a 100 per cent safety perspective, move the whale out into Van Diemen’s Gulf,’ Dr Palmer said. 

Parks Australia said in a statement the sighting of whales in the river was ‘a very unusual event’. 

‘As far as we’re aware, this is the first time this has happened,’ the statement read. 

‘The (remaining) whale is not in distress at the moment and it is not an emergency situation. The best case scenario is for the whale to make its way back out to sea.’     

An exclusion zone to stop boats entering remains in place from the mouth of the East Alligator River to a point approximately 30km upstream. 

The whale is pictured swimming in the river, which Parks Australia said is 'a very unusual event' and the 'first time this has happened'

The whale is pictured swimming in the river, which Parks Australia said is ‘a very unusual event’ and the ‘first time this has happened’ 

‘The last thing we want is a collision between a boat and whale in waters where crocodiles are prevalent and visibility underwater is zero,’ the statement read. 

‘We also don’t want boats to inadvertently force the whale further up the river.’      

Kakadu National Park staff are monitoring the remaining whale and gathering data.  

‘Kakadu National Park and NT Government scientists will continue to monitor the whale in the coming days,’ the statement read. 

‘We appreciate that this is a very unusual and exciting event, however, our priority at present is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of visitors and the whale.’ 

An aerial view of the of the East Alligator River. Parks staff and a crack team of scientists are currently monitoring the whale

An aerial view of the of the East Alligator River. Parks staff and a crack team of scientists are currently monitoring the whale

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