These are the whales we’d rather not see. Their bodies are graphically scarred, even sliced apart - not by whalers but by ships in Australian waters.

There’s the humpback nicknamed Bladerunner for the deep propeller cuts in its skin, which was photographed off Eden, NSW, by whale tour operator Cat Balou Cruises. Or another humpback seen recently in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands by researchers - its flesh opened to the backbone by an unknown vessel.

Injurious or fatal ship strikes in Australian waters are feared to be rising as escalating vessel traffic collides with growing whale numbers, particularly off the eastern states.

  • first pic showing scars from a revolving propeller mark the skin of a humpback whale nicknamed Bladerunner. Photo: Ros Butt/Cat Balou Cruises
  • second pic: An unknown fate awaited this humpback whale after a vessel sliced into its back off the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland. Photo: David Paton, Blue Planet Marine
  • More: The Sydney Morning Herald