The heavily scarred humpback whale followed a kayaking group at Double Island Point on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday until the tour operator jumped in to help it.
Tyron van Santen said the 18 paddlers were viewing a pod of dolphins when the eight-metre humpback breached in the middle of the group.
They moved away, but the whale kept on returning to rub against one of the kayaks for about 10 minutes.
“It sat there for a bit, calm, then came over and rubbed against the kayak,” Mr van Santen said.
“The group moved over a few times, then we noticed the scaring and open wounds on it.
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesperson said wildlife officers and the Department of Fisheries had determined it would not be possible to assist the whale.
“This is because of the very real risk to staff of injury, the remote chance of success and difficulties locating the animal,” the spokesperson said.
“This is a timely reminder to fishers and other marine users to be mindful of how they store and dispose of gear because of the impact it can have on whales and other wildlife.”
The whale appeared to have continued on its northern migration.
On Wednesday, Mr van Santen said the whale kept going onto its side and showing the group its flipper.
“It was really like it just wanted help,” he said.
The humpback continued to stay almost still, so Mr Santen jumped in to remove the rope.
It was wrapped a number of times around the flipper and was impeding its movement.
Mr Santen carefully freed the rope, which was almost as long as the whale, and followed it to the humpback’s mouth, where it seemed to have been swallowed, possibly with other material.
“At that point I thought it was out of hands and there wasn’t much I could do,” he said.
When the group had reached shore, they phoned the Department of Parks and Wildlife to try to solicit more help for the whale.
“It just amazed me, the ability of the whale to try to communicate with us,” Mr Santen said.
“My initial reaction was to help this thing out.
“I did the best I can. I just hope it’s alright and it gets the help it needs.”