Ian Gray of SAWDN – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network, said:
At 10h08 on Monday 24 June, SAWDN – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network – were activated following eye witness reports of a large female Humpback Whale accompanied by her calf entangled in fishing rope and 2 floatation buoys off shore of Seabreeze and heading in the direction of St Francis Bay.
2 NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers and a SAWDN volunteers whale watching boat responded and on arrival on the scene we found the whale moving swiftly at about 5 knots and entangled in 2 wraps of fishing rope around her body and trailing fishing rope attached to 2 floatation buoys.
An NSRI St Francis Bay sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers had also launched to respond after the 2 whales were found to be heading swiftly towards St Francis Bay and the Port Elizabeth SAWDN volunteers were joined by a Jeffreys Bay SAWDN member and we rendezvoused with the entangled whale and her calf off-shore of Van Stadens, 1 nautical mile off-shore.
2 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 and this proved successful giving the SAWDN members 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.
While departing the scene the whale was seen to be breaching. An image of the breaching was captured on our onboard monitor.
The whale, and her calf, have continued on their way following this successful operation that was completed at 14h38.
SAWDN express gratitude to the many members of the public who kept SAWDN and NSRI updated to the position of the whales that had covered a good 15 kilometers from where the first reports were received to where we rendezvoused with the whale.
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