Grey whale
‘If it doesn't get out, running out of energy reserves is a real risk for it.’ OMAR TORRES AFP

A group of experts have teamed up in a bid to save a whale that has become stranded in a reef just off the coast of Cairns, Australia.

The marine specialists believe that the large ocean mammal, which is thought to be an Antarctic minke, has been stuck in the Elford reef for at least three weeks.

The whale was first spotted by helicopter pilot Bronwyn Loud when she was providing tourists with an aerial view of the reef. She told Australian TV service Seven Network: "It's not really moving much, just ducking up and down under the water. It doesn't look like it's going anywhere."

Dr Matt Curnock, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said officials had tried to herd the whale, which is between six and eight metres long, out of the reef to no avail, as concerns mount that it is not eating sufficiently.

Curnock told the Australian Associated Press: "I doubt it's able to feed there. It eats large schools of fish and krill and the like. If it doesn't get out, running out of energy reserves is a real risk for it."

However, he has not given up hope yet and will attempt to coax the whale out by playing on its curious nature. Curnock continued: "We're certainly hoping this one is going to find its way out soon."

Curnock added that further studying of the whale must be conducted to confirm the species, but said that although Antarctic minke are rare in the area, it is not unheard of.