A rare Southern Right whale has found its way from the ocean into Wallis Lake near Forster and now NSW National Parks has put out an order to provide it special protection.
The highly endangered breed of whale was first spotted yesterday morning on the western side of the Foster-Tuncurry bridge, drawing a huge crowd on the banks of the lake as well as in boats and SUPs.
Late yesterday, in an order the first of its kind, NSW National Parks declared that no one is allowed to approach within 500 metres of the whale, whether by boat, aircraft, drone, or foot, and fines apply.
People are not allowed to swim within 500 metres of the whale or even to congregate on the bridge over the Coolongolook River, as the whale needs to swim under the bridge in order to return safely to sea.
Southern Right whales are highly endangered, with only 270 left in the population that live in south-eastern Australia, including only 68 breeding females.
The whale is believed to be 13-15 metres long and there’s speculation it could be a female looking for a place to give birth.
A potential rescue mission may have to be executed by NSW National Parks and ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia) if the whale doesn’t naturally find its way back to ocean in the coming days.
Feature photo by @shanechalkerphotography