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Lone baby humpback whale lost in Sydney waters, 'adopts' yacht as mom


By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 18 August 2008

lost humpback whale calf swims around a yacht in the Pittwater, north of Sydney Harbor

(quote)

Desperate attempts are underway to save a baby humpback whale which is trying to bond with yachts in Sydney harbour, after mistaking the boats for its mother. The two week old calf, which has been separated from its real mother, was spotted nuzzling up to a whale-sized boat in the picturesque Pittwater waterway just north of Sydney on Monday.

Rescuers from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service towed the yacht out to sea hoping to entice the calf to find other whales who would adopt it. Eventually the calf detached itself from the boat, although it remained swimming close to it. However today the baby whale had returned to the Pittwater basin, where spotted swimming “rather energetically” around other yachts in the area.

tail of a humpback whale

The race is now on to save it, but wildlife experts are pessimistic about their chances. The calf, which needs urgently to find a mother to suckle to, is in “grim danger” if it does not find a substitute, said John Dengate, a spokesman for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. The only option is for the calf to find another pod of whales with a mother who can adopt it. “We’ve wracked our brains to think of some kind of captive approach we can do, by taking it in and rearing it ourselves, but it seems to be impossible in Australia, and possibly around the world,” Mr Dengate said.

Baby whales suckle for 11 months on vast amounts of high fat milk and put on approximately 2 pounds a day. To raise this calf by hand, someone would have to take it in and feed it a special formula of whale milk substitute. They would also have to have the capacity to house it until it is grown to its full adult size of 40–50 ft (12-16m), with a weight of approximately 79,000 pounds (36,000 kg). “It is pretty much an impossible ask,” Mr Dengate said. “It’s just heartbreaking, the only thing we can do is monitor the little fella and hope he finds a new mum.”

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Channel Nine and AFP

Original Source: Times Online

Video: Baby Whale Lost in Australia

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