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Whale Of A Rescue: Gentle Giant Freed After Being Stuck In Fishing Line Off Hermanus Coast [Video]

4 Jul

Whale Of A Rescue: Gentle Giant Freed After Being Stuck In Fishing Line Off Hermanus Coast [Video]

Did you know the Western Cape has an official team of rescuers dedicated to freeing whales (and possibly other large ocean creatures) ensnared in fishing gear? These marine heroes are called The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN).

On Friday, June 28, the SAWDN was called to duty after calls of a distressed whale entangled in a fishing line off-shore of Walker Bay, Hermanus, was reported.

The local whale charter vessel Miroscha was monitoring the whale from a safe distance, noting how it was entangled in a fishing line around its tail.

Miroscha remained on the scene and provided coordinates to allow the NSRI Hermanus rescue craft Rescue 17 Alpha to head out in the right direction, accompanied by a qualified  SAWDN NSRI crew, who had the specialised cutting tools and knowledge needed to free the gentle giant from a certain fate.

“We found the juvenile Southern Right whale, eight to nine metres in length, with a large amount of tuna monofilament long line entangled around its tail, flukes and caudal peduncle – it was evident that line had embedded into the flesh and the cutting free of the line was urgent.

“It is unclear, at present, if the tuna monofilament long line is local or foreign. This will be investigated in cooperation the Department of Environment.

This is not an easy operation, as the whale was thrashing about, making the line embed even further into its flesh.

“Cautiously approaching the whale, in a number of efforts to cut the fishing long line off the tail, the flukes and the caudal peduncle, we managed, using the specialised cutting equipment, to get a majority of the line cut free,” said those on the rescue craft.

The crew could tell that the creature had been entangled for quite some time as the line was deeply embedded inside the whale, which also caused difficulty cutting the line free, with the specialist SAWDN cutting equipment suffering significant damage.

However, once freed from a significant portion of the long line, the whale seemed to move more freely. It then dove beneath the surface and vanished, despite a search of the area in hopes of spotting it again.

Then, later that day, the local whale charter vessel Umnati reported encountering what seemed to be the same whale in the same area.


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