AS THE tide began to turn, dropping to low, and the stranded 6m whale became exposed, a massive rescue operation swung into action.

Prior to that, little could be done but comfort and support the young whale as it rolled around the shorebreak.

Sawtell surf lifesavers, lifeguards, Dolphin Marine Magic, police, ORRCA representatives and a cast of many were there to lend a hand in whatever way they could.

Humpback whale stranded on Sawtell Beach.
Humpback whale stranded on Sawtell Beach. Rachel Vercoe

"This is possibly this young whale's first migration, it could be diseased, it could be sick in other ways and it's ended up in a tricky situation," NPWS senior wildlife officer Susan Crocetti said.

The "sub-adult" whale was found at daybreak by surfers, who rang a number of services to help the animal.

"People set up an amazing response," Ms Crocetti said.

"It's a testament to people's passion and commitment to the environment and to conservation.

"Humpback whales are an amazing rescue story. Hunted from near extinction in the 1950s, we're now going to have over 30,000 migrate past the NSW coastline this year," she said.


It was hopeful the results of a mid-morning veterinarian inspection may have confirmed the whale was not ill or suffering disease before a rescue could be attempted.

Malia Rouillon, experienced marine mammal animal rescuer, said the incident was not uncommon.


"These situations are quite frequent within the humpback migration that does happen annually," Ms Rouillon said.

"We will see this more so in the coming months, all the way up until November when the migration ends."

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