Rooi Els – Friday, 25 February, 2011. Attempts made to disentangle Southern Right Whale.
At 10h35 members of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated following reports from eye-witness Roger Parsons, in Pringle Bay, of a Southern Right Whale Cow with rope and floatation buoys entangled around her tail.
Members of SAWDN launched from the NSRI rescue base in Gordon’s Bay and responded to the scene and on arrival off Rooi Els Point, confirmed that approximately 3 ropes and floatation buoys were entangled around the adult whales tail fin. She is accompanied by her, approximately, 8 metre calf which is not affected.
Members of SWADN, carrying specialised whale disentangling equipment, trailed the two whales who were swimming in the direction of Gordon’s Bay. Sea conditions were too rough to begin the operation of attempting to disentangle the whale and hopes were that the whales would enter calmer waters for the disentangling operation to begin.
Efforts were then made by SAWDN members to disentangle the adult cow from the rope and floatation buoys but these efforts were made more difficult after the cow appeared to be skittish and agitated, which is suspected to be due to her instincts to protect her calf.
None of the rope has been freed from the whale when this operation eventually became too dangerous for our members, due to rough seas, and unfortunately some vital whale disentangling equipment was lost during the attempts and at around 16h00 the operation was suspended in the vicinity of Rooi Els.
Two specialised whale disentangling hook knives were lost during the operation. It is quite normal during these rescue operations for the equipment being used to get damaged or lost due to the unpredictable behaviour of these large animals. All the equipment is sponsored or donated to the SAWDN volunteers to carry out these operation.
SAWDN are appealing to the public and boaters to be on the lookout for the whales and to report their whereabouts by calling the Sea Rescue Western Cape Emergency number – 0214493500 and once sea conditions subside attempts will again be made by SAWDN.
THE SA WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK IS A SPECIALISED 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.