Indonesia: Whale rescue hampered by onlookers

(AFP) Google News 27 Jul 12;

JAKARTA — Rescuers in Indonesia fought Friday to help a sperm whale stuck in shallow waters to return to sea, as their efforts were hampered by local residents arriving on boats and driving it back to shore.

The 11-metre (36-feet) whale has been stuck near Pakis Jaya beach in West Java since Wednesday, said Benvika, a rescuer from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, which is leading the rescue bid.

"We almost set it free a few times yesterday, but the noise from the engines of dozens of boats bringing in local residents confused and disoriented the creature, and it couldn't swim out to sea," he told AFP.

"It is still breathing normally but losing a lot of energy," he said by phone from the beach, 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital Jakarta.

"It seems to have difficulty moving its tail, and we have to work quickly to save its life," he said, adding 16 divers were involved in the rescue effort.

Local residents were paying the equivalent of half a US dollar each for boat rides close to the whale, he said.

Some had jumped off the boats and onto the whale on Wednesday, causing wounds to its body, Benvika said.

Before rescuers arrived fishermen had also tried to crudely pull the animal back to sea, also hurting it in the process, he said, adding the whale was covered with blisters on is back.

Up to 30 boats carrying tourists had converged around the whale at one time, he added.

He said volunteers were stopping boats setting sail from the Pakis Jaya beach, but were unable to intercept vessels arriving from neighbouring coastal villages.

Trapped Sperm Whale Dies After Being Set Free By Animal Activists
Ulma Haryanto Jakarta Globe 30 Jul 12;

A sperm whale that was trapped for days in shallow waters off West Java died on Sunday shortly after rescue workers were able to return the whale to deeper waters.

The 11-meter (36-feet) sperm whale became stranded in shallow water near Pakis Jaya beach on Wednesday. The large whale attracted the attention of onlookers and fishermen, who injured the whale and hampered early rescue efforts, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (Jaan) said. But after four days, the crews were able to turn the whale to deeper waters.

“The whale was set free at 4 p.m. [on Sunday], it looked tired because [it was] stranded for so long, but we saw that it was still able to swim,” Benvika, of Jaan, said on Monday.

But at 6:30 p.m., Benvika heard that the whale had washed ashore in Muara Gembong, West Java, an hour-and-a-half boat ride Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok.

“We sent a team back immediately and this morning another team was dispatched to coordinate the removal of the carcass,” Benvika said.

The organization was unsure why the animal repeatedly returned to shallow water.

“It could have been suicidal, or underwater drilling activities could have confused his sonar and navigation,” Benvika explained.

The whale carcass will likely be towed to sea and detonated. The whale is listed as a protected species under the 1990 Environmental Law.