The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) MEDIA RELEASE:
Mike Meyer, SA Whale Disentanglement Unit, said:
At 08h00, Tuesday, 02nd September, The South African Whale Disentanglement Network was activated to respond to Rocky Banks in False Bay, approximately 15 nautical miles off Simonstown, following reports of an 8.5 meter juvenile humpback whale entangled in rope and buoys. SAWDN volunteers responded aboard Dave Hurwitz private boat AWESOME from Simonstown.
On arrival on-scene the whale was found to earlier have been trapped by rope attached to rock lobster traps but had been freed from the entrapment, but still with rope and floatation buoys entangled around its body, the whale seemed to be confused and disorientated and rope wrapped tightly around its flippers prevented the whale from using its flippers, with floatation buoys (at least 6) and at least 6 wraps of rope around its body trapping its flippers.
It appeared that the whale did not know that it had been freed from the entrapment and it remained motionless in the same place while we gently approached and cut away rope but each time we approached the whale it screamed, bleated and bellowed which we suspect was from panic and fear but after numerous cuts were made to the ropes we managed to cut free and recover all rope and floatation buoys from the whale.
Once all rope was cut free we found ourselves in amongst at least 40 fishing boats all with lines in the water and fearing that the young whale would get trapped and entangled again we followed the whale as it swam towards open water and gently guided the whale using the boat to coax the whales direction and eventually hit open water the whale disappeared in the direction of Hermanus swimming strongly and diving confidently and we are confident that this operation has been successful and that the whale has survived.
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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.