At 09h30, Monday, 25th November, SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers launched from the Port Elizabeth NSRI station aboard two NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft, JLT Rescuer and Spirit of Surfski 4, following eye-witness reports from the crew of a charter boat of a Humpback whale entangled in fishing rope lines off-shore East of Port Elizabeth’s Port in Algoa Bay.
On arrival on the scene the charter boat crew were commended for remaining with the whale until SAWDN and NSRI arrived and the charter boat was released to continue on their way.
The whale, despite having freedom of movement, was found to be entangled in fishing rope wraps around the body and a bundle of line on the left fin, the right pectoral fin and no trailing lines.
In a difficult disentanglement operation, with the whale swimming fast and thrashing around at our every attempt to attach grappling hooks and kegging buoys to aid our effort to slow the whale down, after many nautical miles and a few hours of tremendous efforts by the SAWDN volunteers and the NSRI coxswains and crews, the grappling hooks were attached and the kegging buoys took affect.
The whale continued to thrash around and make this disentanglement operation very tricky but eventually the SAWDN volunteers and NSRI crew on the NSRI sea rescue craft were able to get in close enough to make 2 precision cuts using the specialised cutting equipment to the fishing line wraps and the lines and the bundle of rope were freed from the whale and the rope and bundles of fishing line were recovered and the whale swam away fast.
We are confident of the success of this operation which completed at around 15h00.
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, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, 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: 192