SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated following reports of a whale entangled South East of Dassen Island on the West Coast. The juvenile Hump Back was cut free just before 15h00. Picture by Environmental Affairs.
SA WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK – DASSEN ISLAND – Thursday, 24th January, 2013. Juvenile Humpback Whale freed from entanglement at Dassen Island.
MIKE MEYER, of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts, said:
“At 10h05 on Thursday, 24th January, 2013 members of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts, NSRI Yzerfontein and the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated following reports of a whale entangled in rope and seven floatation buoys South East of Dassen Island on the West Coast.
“NSRI Yzerfontein volunteer duty crew launched two rigid inflatable sea rescue craft ROTARY ONWARDS and SPIRIT OF IFFLEY, carrying NSRI volunteers trained in Whale Disentanglement as well as volunteers of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network and members of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts. On arrival on-scene they found a 9 meter juvenile Humpback whale, 4 nautical miles South East of Dassen Island with 7 ropes entangling it. One rope was in a precarious position entangling the whale from the fluke and through the whales mouth and back to the flukes.
“Sea conditions were favorable with flat seas and light winds.
“Working from the front of the head to the tail of the whale we had to first cut away the line through the mouth of the whale as this would have affected the whales ability to feed in the future. We began to cut away rope from the whale, using our specialized whale disentanglement cutting equipment. At this point a large floatation buoy was purposefully attached to the whale by us because while trying to cut away the rope entangled through the mouth of the whale meant that the boat skipper had to place the boat directly inline with the large front flippers close to the whales eye causing the whale to dive beneath the surface each time attempts were made at cutting away the rope close to its eye and in our efforts to prevent this, the large floatation buoy kept the whale buoyant and high in the water for us to successfully cut away that particular rope that entangled through the mouth.
“As is normal in operations of this nature we damaged, beyond repair, one of our specialized cutting knives.
“Numerous cuts had to be made to remove all of the 7 ropes which were in a bundle on top of the flukes and around the tail stalk, including the rope entangled through the mouth of the whale, were successfully cut free.
“The operation was completed at approximately 14h50, but while the animal was not seriously injured it appeared that the whale was conditioned to believing it was still entangled and it took some convincing and coaxing from us for it to realize that it was free and then it sped off appearing to be healthy.”
Picture by Environmental Affairs.
Picture by Environmental Affairs.
The juvenile Hump Back was cut free just before 15h00. Picture by Environmental Affairs.
THE SA WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK IS A SPECIALIZED NETWORK OF VOLUNTEERS SET-UP IN 2006 TO DEAL WITH THESE TYPES OF SITUATIONS AND COMPRISES VOLUNTEERS – FROM NSRI, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS – OCEANS AND COAST, SA NATIONAL PARKS, CAPE NATURE, THE SA POLICE SERVICES, VARIOUS AQUARIUMS from around South Africa, THE NATAL SHARKS BOARD, BAYWORLD, VARIOUS OTHER ORGANISATIONS AND VOLUNTEERS, with the support of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group (DAPG).
SAWDN COVERS THE ENTIRE SA COASTLINE.