At 16h40, Tuesday, 21st April, The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated to respond to approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore of Oyster Bay, following reports from a Nick Bournman, from the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge, of a whale appearing to be entangled in rope and buoys swimming about a nautical mile off-shore of Oyster Bay.
The NSRI St Francis Bay sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS II responded carrying trained volunteer members of SAWDN.
On arrival on-scene at 17h15 two Humpback whales were located swimming together, possibly a mother and child, and the smaller of the two whales, believed to be a juvenile, was found to be entangled in rope and 3 floatation buoys, with the rope entangled around the peduncle, with the entangled whale 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 30 minutes all rope and floatation buoys have been successfully removed from the whale and recovered.
The whale appears to not be injured from the ordeal and appeared to be swimming confidently following the disentanglement and SAWDN are confident that the operation has been successful.
The operation was completed by 17h40 and the sea rescue craft and SAWDN members returned to Port St Francis at 19h15.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK IS A VOLUNTEER NETWORK THAT BEGAN IN 2006 MADE UP OF VOLUNTEERS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS – 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.