Authorities call off search for whale injured by water taxi

WHALE STRUCK: A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson said the whale's species was unknown.
WHALE STRUCK: A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson said the whale's species was unknown.

RANGERS have called off a search to find a whale hit by a Cleveland-bound water taxi near Peel Island yesterday afternoon.

A Queensland Park and Wildlife Service spokesperson said three crew looked for the injured whale early this morning without success.

“The search has been called off, pending further information,” the spokesperson said.

Stradbroke Flyer’s Sharon Groom said the company’s Calypso passenger taxi struck the whale after departing from Dunwich about 4.55pm on Thursday, October 12, with minor damage to the propeller caused.

Ms Groom said it was the first time a Stradbroke Flyer boat had collided with a whale since the business was established about 30 years ago.

Up to 27 trips between North Stradbroke Island and Cleveland are conducted every day by the company.

Ms Groom said the vessel’s skipper was devastated.

“We didn’t know there was a whale there,” she said. 

Ms Groom said the incident was reported to relevant authorities as the boat was brought to a slow.

She said crew only became aware of the whale after hearing “a bang” and then observing the whale behind the boat.

“Some passengers didn’t even know,” she said.

Ms Groom said operators had always shared whale sighting information, but on this occasion, knowledge of the whale was not received.

She said the whale was seen swimming towards Amity afterwards.

The QPWS spokesperson urged all skippers to be alert when out on Moreton Bay.

“Whales may surface near vessels without warning and skippers need to keep a lookout,” the spokesperson said.

The last boat and whale collision in Moreton Bay waters reported by Redland City Bulletin occurred in 2014, after an endangered southern right whale was minced by a ferry’s propellers.

While the type of whale hit on Thursday has not been confirmed, the QPWS spokesperson said humpbacks and southern right whales were known to frequent Moreton Bay waters. 

“About 30,000 humpback whales are migrating along the Queensland coast this year (and) some come into Moreton Bay,” the spokesperson said.

“Other species such as southern right whales also come into the bay.”

The spokesperson said vessel collisions with whales could be reported to Maritime Safety Queensland. 

Contact Maritime Safety Queensland on 3632 7500 or 3305 1700 for after-hours incidents.

Injured or stranded whales can also be reported to the RSPCA by contacting 1300 264 625.