A one- to two-month old humpback whale calf was found Monday trying to nurse from the side of a yacht’s hull in waters off Sydney, Australia, according to CNN.
Some well-meaning rescuers towed the boat Tuesday morning to the open ocean to detach the whale from the side of the boat and let it find another mother. But the calf returned to an inlet Tuesday morning, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
John Dengate, spokesperson for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, says the calf may have just days to live unless it finds a lactating female. He says artificial feeding of the calf would be impossible because young whales are usually nursed for six months or more, and the mother’s special milk, which is pink in color, is 50 percent whale fat. Dengate says the lactating mother must also accept the calf as her own in order to allow the young one to feed.
Though the calf appears to be exhausted, the department will continue leading it out to sea in the hopes it will find an adoptive mom.
— Elizabeth Ellis