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Real life whale rescue tale wins national book award

DPaW wildlife officer Doug Coughran with his Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
DPaW wildlife officer Doug Coughran with his Member of the Order of Australia (AM) DPaW


A children’s book which tells the real-life story of whale rescue work done by the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s (DPaW) whale expert Doug Coughran has won a prestigious national award.


Deepsea Whale Rescue, which was published by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) last year, received a Certificate of Commendation at the 2013 Whitley Awards ceremony in Sydney.


Regarded as Australia’s leading expert in large whale disentanglements, Mr Coughran has spent the last 34 years working at DPaW specialising in whale rescues.


“I was delighted to share both my own and colleagues’ experiences of responding to whales in trouble with young readers and help them learn about the difficulties they encounter,” he said.


Written by Jan Ramage and illustrated by Mark Wilson, the book tells the story of problems faced by whales during their 13,000km annual migration, which includes a stretch of the Western Australian coast.

Rescuers including Mr Coughran come to the aid of one whale that becomes entangled in fishing ropes shortly after defending her calf against attack by a pod of killer whales.

Acting Director General Jim Sharp said the book was an excellent resource for young people to discover more about Western Australia’s natural environment and its majestic inhabitants.


Deepsea Whale Rescue gives children across Australia and the rest of the world the opportunity to learn about the vital and often dangerous work done by DPaW officers,” he said.


“This accolade is also a wonderful recognition of the enormous contribution of Doug Coughran, who has dedicated his life to the safe rescue of whales at sea.”


The Whitley Awards, which recognise outstanding publications that promote and encourage the conservation of Australasian fauna, are the most coveted in Australian zoological publishing.


Mr Coughran was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2010 for his services to conservation and the environment, particularly the disentanglement of whales. 


Deepsea Whale Rescue is available from bookstores and the DPaW shop


Media contact: DPaW Media 9219 9999




Last modified on Friday, 29 November 2013 11:14