Humpback Whales Make Wrong Turn, Get Stranded In Crocodile-Infested Waters
By Bill Galluccio
September 14, 2020
A trio of humpback whales found themselves stranded in crocodile-infested waters in Australia after making a wrong turn and swimming into the East Alligator River in Kakadu National Park. Marine ecologist Jason Fowler was out fishing with his friends earlier in the month when they encountered the three large whales. They were shocked to find them more than ten miles up the river.
"We were completely blown away to see this, I never expected to find anything like this up a river in Kakadu. It completely floored me," Fowler told ABC News. "Raging tides, raging current, crocodiles along each bank, this is the last place you ever expect to find a whale."
Officials lost contact with two of the whales, but do not believe the crocodiles are a threat to whales.
"When we saw the crocodiles from the helicopter, there was no interest whatsoever in the humpback whale," marine scientist Dr. Carol Palmer said. She added that the crocodiles might attack the whales if they get stranded in the shallow water, but even then, the whale would be a formidable prey.
"If the whale strands up on a sandbar or become injured somehow, that could kick start off the crocodiles, but it's a very big 14-meter whale," she said.
The whales may be stuck in the river for a few weeks as they wait for the tide to rise high enough for them to make their way back into open water. As a precaution to protect both the whales and boaters, officials set up a roughly 20-mile boat exclusion zone in the river.
"A whale can knock those boats over, very easily. They wouldn't do it deliberately, it's a scare thing", Palmer said.
Officials said if the whales don't voluntarily leave, they will be forced to coax them out of the river.
"Having a number of boats lined up, banging the sides of the boat, and see if we can actually just move them downstream and get them out at Van Diemen Gulf," she said.
Photo: Getty Images