A young adult humpback whale which become entangled in shark control netting on the Gold Coast this morning has been released by animal rescuers.

The 9m whale was spotted caught in the netting off Tugun Beach about 8.30am (AEST).

The whale was freed almost seven hours later by rescuers from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Marine Animal Release Team (MART).

A DPI&F spokeswoman said the whale was “fine” as it swam away from rescuers.

“The whale is healthy and strong so that is good news,” she said.

DPI&F Acting Shark Control Program Manager Rick Exten said the MART team was alerted by the Surf Lifesaving Queensland Control Centre this morning.

Exten said the rescue effort took longer than usual because of a strong and very active whale which continued to swim during the rescue.

Whale entanglements were anticipated at this time of year as the whale population started its homeward return to southern waters, he said.

Shark control gear was introduced in the early 1960s in response to a spate of fatal shark attacks off Queensland beaches.

The gear, which includes shark nets and drum lines, is in place off 87 Queensland beaches.

Since 2000, 23 whales have been caught in shark netting in Queensland and 20 have been successfully freed by MART, which is based on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Mackay.