Whale rescue a success

STAFF REPORTER

Sea rescuers managed to untangle a whale that had become caught in fishing rope and floatation buoys off Bantry Bay on Wednesday March 2.

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers were alerted by residents.

Craig Lambinon, spokesman for the SAWDN, said freeing the whale had proved tricky.

“The whale, appearing to be healthy and able to move freely, had fishing rope around the front flippers, over its back and wrapped between the two flippers.

“Four ropes were attached to the flippers with two small floatation buoys attached.

“Sea conditions were calm but with very poor water visibility and the whale was followed while attempts were made to cut rope free, but the attempts were unsuccessful, as the whale kept moving out of reach of the specialised cutting equipment on the long cutting poles, and the whale was followed as it headed towards deeper water,” said Mr Lambinon.

He said that a lead rope was attached to the whale, from the rescue craft, so the whale, which kept diving, could be followed.

About five nautical miles off-shore of Three Anchor Bay, the whale stopped among a kelp bed and, according to Mike Meyer, head of SAWDN, the whale appeared to be playing with the kelp and seemed extremely calm and friendly, which enabled the rescue craft to get close enough and SAWDN volunteers to begin cutting the rope.

“At that stage, dense fog had rolled in hampering visibility further, but efforts to cut the ropes continued and SAWDN are confident that all four ropes were cut successfully before visibility was completely lost,” said Mr Lambinon.