A screengrab of what Channel 7 believes to be the freed whale. Photo: Channel 7
A yachtie has leapt into the sea off North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane to free a whale trapped in a shark net.
Peter Brown told brisbanetimes.com.au he was sailing his yacht off the coast of Point Lookout when he spotted the juvenile whale in distress shortly after 7am today.
He called authorities, but after waiting half an hour he decided he had to act to save the distressed mammal, believed to be between eight and nine metres long.
Peter Brown's yacht Photo: Supplied
"This whale was really wheezing and wasn't able to keep his breathing hole above the water. Something had to be done immediately - we couldn't wait for the cavalry to turn up," Mr Brown said.
The 67-year-old Beaudesert yachtie first rowed out to the whale in his dingy and using a kitchen knife cut through several ropes, but it wasn't enough to free the whale.
So Mr Brown returned to his yacht, donned goggles and flippers and jumped into the water.
Leaving his wife to steer the boat, Mr Brown cut away several more ropes enabling the whale to shake free of the chains around its tail.
"It was quite an eery feeling touching the flesh of a huge, great big 40-foot whale ... but I felt totally unthreatened by the whale," he said.
"Eventually it seemed to swim away from all the ropes and the buoys that were tangled with it. And very slowly, and in a very groggy fashion, it swam away.
"And then another little motor boat came up ... and followed [the whale] out to make sure it was OK. Then he came back to us holding his thumbs up and that was the message saying 'mission accomplished'.
"We were quite delighted and we headed on our way."
Shark control program manager Jeff Krause, from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, said the whale had breached and became entangled on a shark drum line.
He said the Marine Animal Release Team was notified and responded immediately.
"However, a nearby yacht owner jumped overboard and cut the rope before they could get there," he said.
"While this is a great result for the whale, we would strongly discourage people from approaching a whale caught in shark control gear. It can be an extremely dangerous situation if the whale becomes agitated."
Mr Brown and his wife will dock at Manly Harbour at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron on Friday.