Onlookers hamper whale rescue in Indonesia

Rescuers in Indonesia fought Friday to help a sperm whale stuck in shallow waters to return to sea, as their efforts were hampered by local residents arriving on boats and driving it back to shore.

The 11-metre (36-feet) whale has been stuck near Pakis Jaya beach in West Java since Wednesday, said Benvika, a rescuer from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, which is leading the rescue bid.

"We almost set it free a few times yesterday, but the noise from the engines of dozens of boats bringing in local residents confused and disoriented the creature, and it couldn't swim out to sea," he told AFP.

"It is still breathing normally but losing a lot of energy," he said by phone from the beach, 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital Jakarta.

"It seems to have difficulty moving its tail, and we have to work quickly to save its life," he said, adding 16 divers were involved in the rescue effort.

Local residents were paying the equivalent of half a US dollar each for boat rides close to the whale, he said.

Some had jumped off the boats and onto the whale on Wednesday, causing wounds to its body, Benvika said.

Before rescuers arrived fishermen had also tried to crudely pull the animal back to sea, also hurting it in the process, he said, adding the whale was covered with blisters on is back.

Up to 30 boats carrying tourists had converged around the whale at one time, he added.

He said volunteers were stopping boats setting sail from the Pakis Jaya beach, but were unable to intercept vessels arriving from neighbouring coastal villages.

Other inspiring stories

  • Here’s why you should check out the Perspectives Film Festival 2015
    Here’s why you should check out the Perspectives Film Festival 2015

    You may have heard of film festivals. Now, what makes this stand out is that it’s entirely student-run – conducted by undergraduates from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). In its 8th edition this year, the PFF will be held at the National Museum of Singapore in October.

  • GE2015: Five faux pas worthy of hara-kiri
    GE2015: Five faux pas worthy of hara-kiri

    The term “hara-kiri” entered Singapore’s political lexicon after the Minister for National Development, Khaw Boon Wan, made reference to how the CEOs and board of directors in Japan will commit hara-kiri, a form of Japanese honour suicide, when the company makes mistakes in the good old days. He was commenting in the context of the

  • GE2015: Chiam See Tong, the people's politician
    GE2015: Chiam See Tong, the people's politician

    For the first time since 1976, Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Secretary-General Chiam See Tong, 80, will not be contesting an election.