Ian Gray of SAWDN – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network, said:
At 10h08 on Monday 24 June, SAWDN – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network were activated following eye witness reports of a large female Humpback Whale accompanied by her calf entangled in fishing rope and 2 flotation buoys off Seabreeze and heading in the direction of St Francis Bay.
2 NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers and a SAWDN volunteer whale watching boat responded. Arriving on the scene we found the whale moving swiftly at about 5 knots and entangled in 2 wraps of fishing rope around her body and trailing fishing rope attached to 2 flotation buoys.
A NSRI St Francis Bay sea rescue craft accompanied by SAWDN volunteers had also launched to respond after the 2 whales were found to be heading swiftly towards St Francis Bay and the Port Elizabeth SAWDN volunteers were joined by a Jeffreys Bay SAWDN member. We rendezvoused with the entangled whale and her calf 1 nautical miles off Van Stadens.
2 Kegging lines were attached to the trailing rope and an additional line was run to one of the NSRI sea rescue craft to trail behind the whale in an effort to slow her down. This proved successful, giving the SAWDN members an opportunity to get close enough to the whale.
Using a rescue knife, our SAWDN volunteers cut one rope free of the whale and then pulled on a remaining rope entangled around the body of the whale – that rope came free and all rope and the flotation buoys were recovered.
While departing the scene the whale was seen to be breaching. An image of the breaching was captured on our onboard monitor.
The whale, and her calf, have continued on their way following this successful operation that was completed at 14h38.
SAWDN express gratitude to the many members of the public who kept SAWDN and NSRI updated to the position of the whales that had covered a good 15 kilometers from where the first reports were received to where we rendezvoused with her.
The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was established in 2006 in order to manage entangled whales using specialized equipment and is comprised of trained volunteers from the – National Sea Rescue Institute, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Department of Environmental Affairs, Centre for Sustainable Oceans at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Nature, Mammal Research Institute, South African National Parks, South African Police Service, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Cape Nature, Bayworld, various Boat Based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving Operators, the Rock Lobster Industry and the Octopus Industry and fully supported by the Dolphin Action and Protection Group.
SAWDN COVERS THE ENTIRE SA COASTLINE
Whales assisted to date: 184