(CNN)Rescuers freed a humpback whale that got tangled in a shark net off the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
“Probably the most trying conditions we’ve seen for a while for an animal release,” Rob McDonald with the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol told CNN affiliate Nine News Australia.
Choppy sea conditions on Thursday made it difficult for boats to reach the marine mammal, which was about 8 meters (26 feet) long.
A crew from Sea World Gold Coast helped with the rescue.
“We had people holding on to the net to hold us into position. The wind wasn’t working with us. It made it very difficult,” Sea World’s Trevor Long told Nine News.
It took about three hours to cut the whale free.
“There’s nothing there that should impact on that animal’s ability to survive long term,” Long said.
Shark nets are designed to catch large sharks that could attack swimmers. Fisheries Queensland says the nets are 186 meters (610 feet) long — a little more than the length of two football fields — and 6 meters (about 20 feet) deep.
The nets are monitored and have electronic pingers to warn away whales, dolphins and other creatures, but people argue that they should be removed during whale migration season, which starts in mid-June.
About 30,000 humpback whales swim through the area each year.
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