An eight-metre humpback whale is stranded at Irene Reef off Cooktown.
An eight-metre humpback whale is stranded at Irene Reef off Cooktown.

Fishermen fear for whale stranded in FNQ reef lagoon

FISHERMEN have raised concerns about the welfare of a whale stranded in a reef lagoon off the Far North Queensland coast since early August.

The 8m humpback whale was first spotted on August 5 in a 50m wide circular-shaped lagoon at Irene Reef, about 30km south east of Cooktown.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was notified about the whale soon after it was discovered, however fishermen in the area have told the Cairns Post the animal was still stuck and looked to have lost weight.

GBRMPA confirmed it was aware of the trapped whale.

"We were made aware of a juvenile male humpback whale swimming in a lagoon around Irene Reef, east-southeast of Cooktown approximately six to eight weeks ago," a spokeswoman said.

GBRMPA said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers responded to the report in August and made an "assessment" of the stranded whale.

"It was determined at the time, the male juvenile humpback whale was in a healthy condition and no further action was taken," the spokeswoman said.

GBRMPA said whale numbers had "recovered incredibly" since the outlawing of commercial harvesting in 1978.

"We know through experience that coercing a whale of any size can endanger the whale and most possibly place our staff at risk, due to size of whale, remote location and how it may react to being approached," the spokeswoman said.

"It is highly unlikely we would attempt to remove the whale out of the lagoon."

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said humpback whales "sometimes get disorientated".

"We encourage the authorities to do all that they can to ensure the whale is healthy and helped back into the open ocean," a spokesman said.