A humpback whale might have taken a deadly wrong turn recently. While migrating through the area, it apparently became confused and is now stranded in a crocodile-infested river in Australia.
In a “very unusual” occurrence, three of the large whales entered the East Alligator River in Kakadu National Park last week. The humpbacks were first seen on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Australian park said in a statement.
Two of the whales appear to have found their way out of the area, although rangers are not certain, said the spokeswoman. Since the first sightings, park staff have been closely monitoring the lost whale, who appears to be stuck.
The spokeswoman said that scientists are not exactly sure what happened. Yet, they believe a “wrong turn” is the most likely explanation.
An exclusion zone was promptly created at the mouth of the river to a point just under 20 miles upstream. It was introduced “for the welfare of the whale and for the safety of people who may have been considering going to the area by boat,” the park posted on Facebook on Friday.
Kakadu National Park’s Statement on the Lost Whale
“As far as we’re aware, this is the first time this has happened,” the Facebook statement read.
“We are monitoring the situation and working with NT government authorities to gather data on this unusual event. and an expert working group has been set up to monitor the whale and prepare plans for intervention if required.
“The last thing we want is a collision between a boat and whale in waters where crocodiles are prevalent and visibility underwater is zero. We also don’t want boats to inadvertently force the whale further up the river.
“The 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.
“Kakadu National Park and NT Government scientists will continue to monitor the whale in the coming days. We appreciate that this is a very unusual and exciting event, however, our priority at present is to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors and the whale.”
Saltwater crocodiles inhabit most of the waters within the park. The ambush predators have attacked and even killed humans in the area. According to the park’s guidelines to visitors, the crocodiles can stay hidden under water for long periods. They also move with great stealth and camouflage when they attack.
Earlier Monday, park staff met with experts to discuss how best to help the lost humpback whale, if necessary.