7 June 2012: A little, lost baby Humpback Whale made headlines around the world when it beached itself on Fraser Island's famous 75 Mile Beach - just a short way from Eli Creek earlier this week. One of our Fraser Explorer Tour guides was first on the scene, alerting park rangers and authorities. Fraser Island has such a tight knit community and ten wonderful staff members from Eurong Beach Resort headed north up the beach armed with towels, buckets, a marquee and shovels to help rescue the animal.
For two days the team worked with Queensland Park Rangers and other volunteers, but sadly their valiant efforts were to no avail as the animal passed away in the night. Eurong Beach Resort's Dawn Boreham was one of the first on the scene and her photographs have been used by several media agencies. Here's Dawn's story...
News travels fast on Fraser Island and after hearing about the stranded baby Humpback whale from a tour guide, I asked a couple of people if they would like to go and help... after all, though Hervey Bay is famous for close encounters with Whales in the calm waters off the Great Sandy Strait every August through October, it isn't everyday you get to see a whale THAT up close and personal.
|Eurong staff provide towels, bucket and shelter for the little fella|
Did you know: Humpback Whales are the most surface active of all the whales?
From there it just snowballed. We were going to go after work that night, but Fraser ended up having the highest tide for winter - which hampered our efforts. So, after some deliberation we decided to get up in the very early hours of the morning and go up in three four-wheel-drives.
We left Eurong Beach Resort at approx 4.00am. Luke and Crystal in the leading car, Greg, Peta, JD and Jay in car 2 and Dianna, Jessica, Hitomi and myself in the last car.
On arrival we thought we were too late and that the poor thing had died, but on closer inspection realised it was still alive. Our primary objective was to make the baby more comfortable and give it the best chance possible to survive.
|Our early morning vigil on Fraser Island's eastern beach|
Not long after, it started opening its eyes and making what we called "distress noises". It followed us and our movements with it's big eyes pretty much from then on. As you can imagine, hearing those sounds out of such a graceful and helpless creature was heart wrenching - so we redoubled our efforts.
The whole time we felt pretty helpless... because even for a baby - it was very big, about 2.5 car lengths and we were going to need heavy machine to help move it.
Crystal called it 'BLUEY', which stuck. We all would have loved to stay for a lot longer but some of us had to get back to start work at 7.00am so one car load including myself, driving, left just before 6.00am.
|Up close and personal with a whale named Bluey|
Some of us returned during the next day to - when we could - to help out again.
Our night on 75-Mile Beach was probably the most rewarding, but also one of the saddest things we have all seen here on Fraser Island... but we would all do it again in a heart beat.
Rest in peace, Bluey!
Brisbane Times: Residents tell of efforts to save baby whale
Channel Seven: Race on to rescue baby beached whale
Fraser Coast Chronicle: Rescue team works to save whale
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