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Australia: Spotted humpback whales in the crocodile-infested East Alligator River

Australia: Spotted humpback whales in the crocodile-infested East Alligator River”

Marine authorities were left puzzled on Monday when a humpback whale was found trapped in the East Alligator River in Australia's Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park that is infested with crocodiles.

Recorded sightings of whales in a World Heritage-listed park on the East All Tihiabhai River have never been seen before.

Marine ecologist Jason Fowler was out fishing with his friends earlier in the month when they encountered the three large whales.

Dr. Carol Palmer, a senior dolphin and whale scientist at the Northern Territory government, says it was extraordinary to see the humpbacks so far inland.

"The water is incredibly foggy". It's got zero visibility. Two of the whales are believed to have made it back to open water-it's also possible they're just staying underwater-and scientists are now trying to figure out how to coax the last one to safety, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Despite the name of the river, there is no alligator in Australia. "It's the great conservation success story in the ocean", Fowler said.

"There are many humpbacks heading up the W.A". (Western Australia state) coast now, they're bound to end up in new places. "What's incredibly weird is the fact that they're up a muddy, shallow river full of crocodiles - that's unheard of", he said.

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An aerial view of the of the East Alligator River. It was named after many crocodiles by European explorers who were apparently unable to tell the difference.

"We don't know what happened, but obviously it turned out to be a mistake and ended up in the East Alligator River", Mrs. Palmer said.

"It's very tidal. It's quite shallow and we're all pretty keen to try to get this guy out", she added.

Options for persuading the whale to leave the river included using recorded whale calls or making noise by hitting the side of boats.

Fowler thought it unlikely the whales would be attacked by crocodiles due to their size.

At present, authorities have set up an "exclusion zone", created to keep boaters away and minimise stress for the animal, until the next course of action is decided on.

"We spoke to the Aboriginal elders who speak for that bit of country in Kakadu and they said there's no name for whales", Fowler said. It has not been recorded in their cultural history. "They have never heard of it before".



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