Confused baby whale will be euthanized
UPDATE: 6:55PM EST - August 21
The confused baby whale, that the locals have nicknamed 'Colin' will be put down as it is just too distressed and confused to be saved. A sad ending to a very sad story.
Veterinarians and marine researchers who spent the afternoon examining the whale found that it would likely not live through the night, said Sally Barnes, deputy director-general of the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change.
"The calf was in much worse condition than they originally thought and the injuries were a lot worse than they thought as well, probably from a shark attack," she said. "We have taken the hard decision to put it down, unfortunately."
UPDATE: 1:01pm - August 20
After a few attempts from wildlife conservationists to lure the calf out to sea, the baby whale has again appeared in the inlet and is still distressed and trying to follow boats it thinks is its mother.
A hungry and abandoned humpback whale calf that has been trying to suckle from boats in the waters off north Sydney rebuffed fresh attempts by wildlife workers to return it to the open ocean Wednesday and appeared to be weakening.
A baby humpback whale is lost in the waters of Queensland, and wildlife experts have found it nuzzling up to yachts, because it thinks it's its mother.
The calf is about two months old, and has either been separated or abandoned by its mother, most likely during the breeding migration. Humpbacks go on a 20,000km round trip from the Antarctic to Queensland every year.
It was first spotted in Sydney's Pittwater Bay on Sunday trying to suckle from a whale-sized yacht, in a vain attempt to get a response from its "surrogate mother".
Yesterday, rangers used the yacht to lure the calf out to open sea in the hope it would find its mother or join other migrating humpbacks. But today, it was back in the same area, on the western shores of Pittwater, circling other yachts.
A spokesman for the department of national parks and wildlife, Chris McIntosh, said the 5m-long calf risked dying of hunger, being attacked by sharks, or beaching itself.
"The difficulty with this calf, in our view, is that it probably hasn't weaned itself from its mother and that is why it is taking to yachts. The prognosis isn't good," said McIntosh.
The humpback's dilemma has generated a huge outpouring of sympathy in Australia, with television and radio stations keeping a watching brief on the drama.
The calf will only survive for a few days without its mother's milk, and wildlife experts may have to put it down it if it becomes beached or too distressed.