An experienced whale-handler from Sydney’s south-west has died in hospital after a fall from the ship, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has said.
The 62-year-old, who had worked for the organisation for 15 years, was found on Friday morning in a shallow bay off the port city’s west coast, with injuries to his chest and head, according to the society.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his death is being investigated, the society said in a statement.
“He was a dedicated and experienced whale handler and was known to everyone in the whale-care area, as he was a whale handler for many years,” the statement said.
“It is with great sadness that we are sharing the sad news that he has sadly passed away.”
Mr Kwon, who was also a certified whale-rearing instructor, had been a whale-handler for more than 30 years and was the director of whale-training and research for the society, which is run by two former Sea Shepherd activists.
The society said Mr Kwan was also an experienced trainer, having worked for a number of marine conservation organisations and with the NSW government.
It is understood Mr Kwong was a member of the Whale Sanctuary Group, which was based in Townsville.
“His commitment and love for animals and the environment was truly inspirational, and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the many people who worked with him at Whale and Dolphins,” the society’s director of animal welfare, Simon Lee, said.
Mr Kwang was known as “Kwong” in his training and had previously worked for conservation organisations, the Society said.
It said the organisation would be supporting his family through the funeral and post-mortem.
It added that Mr Kwas also an animal-rescue volunteer, and had helped with the rehabilitation of a number other animals.
Mr Lee said Mr S was a friend of the organisation and “an important part of the wider Whale Sanctuary community”.
He said he was also working with Sea Shepherd to help improve whale-welfare in the region.
“The entire Whale Sanctuary family is saddened to hear of the passing of Mr S, a well-respected member of our Whale Sanctuary group and a very good whale handler,” Mr Lee added.
“Mr S was very involved in whale-rescuing in the north of NSW, working with our volunteers in a variety of capacities, including for Sea Shepherd.”
“He also provided whale-eye footage to a number local publications.
He will be sorely missed by the whale and dolphin community and the Sea Shepherd community as he is not only an experienced whale hander, but also a wonderful colleague,” he said.
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