A female humpback whale was disentangled near St Francis Bay on Monday, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) has said.
According to Ian Gray, the volunteers at SAWDN were alerted following eyewitness accounts of a large female humpback whale entangled in fishing rope and two flotation buoys off Seabreeze, heading in the direction of St. Francis Bay. The whale was accompanied by her calf, which had not been entangled.
“Two NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers and a SAWDN volunteers’ whale watching boat responded. On arrival we found the whale moving swiftly at about five knots, entangled in two wraps of fishing rope around her body and trailing fishing rope attached to two floatation buoys,” said Gray.
He said an NSRI St. Francis Bay sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers had also launched to respond after the whales were found to be heading towards St Francis Bay.
The Port Elizabeth SAWDN volunteers were joined by a Jeffreys Bay SAWDN member. The teams found the entangled whale and her calf one nautical mile off-shore of Van Stadens.
“Two kegging lines were attached to the trailing rope and an additional line was run to one of the NSRI sea rescue craft to trail behind the whale in an effort to slow the whale down. This proved successful and provided SAWDN members with an opportunity to get close enough to the whale.
“Using a rescue knife, our SAWDN volunteers cut one rope free of the whale and then pulled on a rope that remained entangled around the body of the whale – that rope came free and all rope and the floatation buoys were recovered,” said Gray.
While departing the scene, the whale could be seen breaching, he said.
The operation started at 10am and ended just before 3pm.
– African News Agency (ANA)