At 15h00 on Monday the 28th of July, The South African Whale Disentanglement Network was activated to respond to approximately 200 meters off-shore of Maitlands River Mouth, Port Elizabeth, (20 nautical miles West of the Port of Port Elizabeth), following reports of a 7 meter juvenile humpback whale entangled in rope and buoys.
The NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER IV and the Raggy Charters boat WINKEL responded carrying the volunteer members of SAWDN.
On arrival on-scene at 17h10, in fading light (with only approximately 40 minutes of daylight remaining), the whale was found to be entangled in rope, 2 flotation buoys and a float, with the rope entangled around the peduncle (5 wraps) and around the head and the mouth and the whale was swimming freely but appearing to be burdened by the weight of the entanglement.
An extensive disentanglement operation progressed, using the specialised disentanglement equipment, and in an operation lasting just under 40 minutes all rope appears to have been successfully removed from the whale.
The whale surfaced next to the sea rescue craft and then began to swim around in larger and larger circles before disappearing into the night and appeared to be getting stronger and swimming more confidently as it progressed and SAWDN are optimistic that the operation has been successful.
The operation was completed at 18h00 and the boats returned to Port at 19h15.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK IS A VOLUNTEER NETWORK THAT BEGAN IN 2006 MADE UP OF VOLUNTEERS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT – OCEANS AND COASTS, NSRI, THE DOLPHIN ACTION AND PROTECTION GROUP, SA NATIONAL PARKS, THE SA POLICE SERVICES, RESEARCH ORGANISATIONS, THE NATAL SHARKS BOARD, TABLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARKS, WEST COAST WILDLIFE RESCUE AND A HOST OF VARIOUS MARINE AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS.
Pictures are available on Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.