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The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) MEDIA RELEASE:
At 09h23, Wednesday, 08th July, The South African Whale Disentanglement Network was activated to respond to approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore of Olifantsbospunt, Cape Point, following reports of a 15 meter adult Humpback whale entangled in rope and buoys.
The Department of Sea Fisheries Ellen Khuzwayo research vessel was on-scene. She is conducting rock lobster research in the area and it appears that the whale was entangled in rope and buoys from the research being conducted.
SAWDN volunteers responded aboard NSRI Hout Bay’s sea rescue craft NADINE GORDIMER and ALBIE MATTHEWS.
On arrival on-scene at 12h05 the whale was found to be tired with some damage to its tail stock, caused by rope, and entangled in 5 wraps of rope around its Caudal Peduncle, 2 floatation buoys and 2 wraps of rope around its left Fluke and 1 wrap of rope around its right Fluke and the whale anchored to the traps on the sea bed.
“A complication was presented with the rope itself being almost 20 millimetres thick meaning that the specialised cutting equipment would be tested to their limit”, said Mike Meyer of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts and head of SAWDN.
An extensive disentanglement operation progressed, using the specialised disentanglement equipment, and in an operation lasting 40 minutes all rope and buoys have been successfully removed from the whale and the rope and buoys recovered.
“Because of the thick rope it took two SAWDN volunteers to pull on the cutting poles at the same time while cutting on each wrap and causing one pole to be damaged beyond repair from the weight of the rope and from the effort required to cut through the 20 millimetre thick rope but incredibly satisfying to achieve the successful outcome”, said Mike.
The whale was followed for a while by the SAWDN team and it appeared healthy, strong and confident and despite some damage to the whale’s tail stock, caused by the rope, SAWDN are very confident that the whale has been saved.
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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, TELKOM MARITIME RADIO SERVICES, 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.
Spokesman: SOUTH AFRICAN WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK
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