SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) Media Release:
Sunday, 16th September, 2012. Whale freed from entanglement of fishing nets, ropes and flotation buoys.
At 12h15 on Sunday 16th September, 2012 members of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) and NSRI Mossel Bay were activated following reports from eye-witnesses of a whale entangled in fishing ropes off Suiderkruis near Mossel Bay and heading in the direction of Mossel Bay, approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore.
No small boats or rigid inflatable boats were immediately available so only the larger 9 meter NSRI sea rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer could be used in this operation.
Volunteers of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network, (in this case comprising only NSRI volunteers of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network) aboard the NSRI Mossel Bay sea rescue craft, launched and on arrival in the vicinity of the eye-witness reports a search commenced. The volunteers found an adult Southern Right whale with her albino calf between Hartenbos and Suiderkruis and the whale had a large amount of fishing nets, ropes and flotation buoys entangled around her tail fin.
Using the specialized cutting equipment the volunteers maneuvered the boat and after numerous attempts managed to cut the fishing nets, rope and flotation buoys free of the whale.
The fishing nets were recovered onto the NSRI sea rescue boat and brought to the NSRI Mossel Bay rescue base and are estimated to weigh approximately 100 kilograms.
A small flesh sample of the whale was collected from the net and will be handed to the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts for scientific analysis.
No further action was necessary and the whale and her calf appear to have been in a healthy condition, barring a few minor scratches on the adult whale, as they swam off.
Pictures are available for media use on Sea Rescues Flickr page.
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.