Lifeguards in Australia have rescued a humpback whale calf after it became trapped in a shark net. The calf became entangled off Norah Head, on the New South Wales central coast, on 4 November before crews freed it.

Scott Higgins, one of the lifeguards at Norah Head, said: "One minute I'm talking to the other lifeguards and then the next minute there's a giant tail flying towards me. It's the most intimidating thing I've ever dealt with in my life."

The baby was in visible distress and had its tail caught in the netting and rope. The mother of the trapped whale circled the calf for hours, swimming underneath it and pushing it to the surface to make sure it could keep breathing.

Until the rescuers freed the calf, loud cries could be heard from the mother.

Australian environmental groups have long criticised the use of shark nets and ropes in the seas, saying that it impacts on other marine life.