Whale rescue off Coffs Coast

WHAT'S ensnared in 40 metres of shark line, a foam float and a 20-litre white plastic drum?

That would be the agitated 10-metre humpback whale leaving rescuers in its wake in the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

A fisherman spotted the leviathan near Pig Island, off the harbour entrance, on Tuesday morning and Park officers later caught up with it near South Solitary Island.

They tracked the mammal, which at one point had moved more than 18km offshore, all the while waiting for the right moment to cut the fishing gear from its head, fins and tail.

Deteriorating conditions frustrated this rescue bid but the team did manage to attach locator beacons and orange buoys to the debris.

They hit the ocean again yesterday with back-up from headland spotters and aircraft but the whale was nowhere to be found. The search resumes in earnest today.

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Woman reported missing on state's north

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