SA WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK – Cape Point – Tuesday, 21 June, 2011.
At 11h35 members of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were called out when the Rock Lobster fishing vessel Biskop reported that a whale was entangled in rock lobster netting, rope and floatation buoys approximately 2 nautical miles off Olifantsbospunt, Cape Point.
Members of SAWDN responded to the scene aboard sea rescue boats and on arrival on-scene confirmed that three ropes, netting and floatation buoys were entangled around the 11 meter Humpback whales right flipper and torso in front of the flipper.
Mike Meyer, of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network, said the animal appeared to be tired. The floatation buoys attached to the rope were keeping the whale buoyant and one long rope entangled around the whales flipper was still attached to rock lobster traps on the sea bed which effectively had the whale trapped.
The Department of Agriculture Forestries and Fisheries boat Victor Msenge arrived on-scene to assist and they launched a rigid inflatable rubber-duck to join the 3 NSRI sea rescue craft, from NSRI Kommetjie and NSRI Hout Bay, that were carrying the SA Whale Disentanglement Network members.
Members of SAWDN, carrying specialized whale disentangling equipment, (cutting knives – hooked shaped – on long poles) were able to cut all rope, netting and buoys off the whale.
During the operation two larger adult whales appeared and it looked like they were giving some encouragement to the whale while our members cut the rope and netting off the affected whale. They hovered around and swam alongside the casualty whale while our members worked to cut the whale free, said Mike.
THE SA WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK IS A SPECIALIZED NETWORK OF VOLUNTEERS SET-UP IN 2006 TO DEAL WITH THESE TYPES OF SITUATIONS AND COMPRISES OF VOLUNTEERS – FROM NSRI, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS – OCEANS AND COASTS, SA NATIONAL PARKS, CAPE NATURE, THE SA POLICE SERVICES, VARIOUS AQUARIUMS FROM AROUND SOUTH AFRICA, THE NATAL SHARKS BOARD, BAYWORLD, VARIOUS OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND VOLUNTEERS, WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE DOLPHIN ACTION AND PROTECTION GROUP (DAPG).
SAWDN COVERS THE ENTIRE SA COASTLINE.