"A six-metre long baby humpback whale has been freed after becoming tangled in a shark net off Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast.
It took three hours for a 13-strong rescue team to cut the whale free while its mother waited nearby, Matt Davidson, an officer with the Queensland Boating and Fisheries patrol said.
After being alerted by a shark net contractor that the whale was trapped, four crews, including one from Seaworld, used special "shoehorn" knives on the ends of poles to cut the net, while a strong northerly blew and sea conditions deteriorated.
"Once you lay the knife on the whale's body, it is manufactured in a way that will not cut the whale," said Mr Davidson.
The whale was unharmed and resumed its southerly migration, he said.
This is the second time a whale has been caught in nets off Kirra beach and the third incident involving humpbacks on the Gold Coast this spring.
On September 1, a humpback measuring eight-metres was freed at Kirra and on September 28, a 10-metre whale suffered tail injuries in a net off Miami Beach before being released.
The numbers of whales becoming entangled in nets is likely to grow as the humpback whale continues to recover from coming close to extinction in the 1960s, the chairman of the Australian Whale Conservation Society, Paul Hodda, said.
‘‘They are designed to kill sharks, to keep numbers down and unfortunately they kill whales, as well as other marine animals including turtles, dugongs and harmless sharks,’’ he said.
An estimated 10-14,000 humpbacks are migrating south to Antarctica this spring after breeding in warm northern waters and this is likely to increase again next year, he said.
Rescue crews are on hand around tourist areas like the Gold Coast, but in other less populated areas, whales become entangled and die, he said.
He called on people concerned about the impact the nets have to lobby politicians at all levels to get rid of them.
Alternatives which are not as dangerous to whales, such as drums anchored to the seabed with sharkbait on hooks are available, he said."

Sydney Morning Herald Oct 3 2009