At 08h38, Saturday, 23 November, the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers were activated following reports of a whale carcass entangled in fishing nets at a Purse Seiner (fishing boat) approximately 7 nautical miles off-shore of the Port of Port Elizabeth.
NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated and SAWDN volunteers accompanied three NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft, Spirit of Toft, JLT Rescuer and Spirit of Surfski 4 and rendezvoused with the Purse Seiner that had the whale carcass in fishing nets.
An operation commenced with the SAWDN volunteers using the specialised cutting equipment in cooperation with NSRI coxswains and NSRI crew manoeuvering the sea rescue craft to assist in the disentanglement operation.
On being released from fishing rope, but still entangled in fishing nets, the carcass of the 11 meter Brydes Whale was towed to Coega harbour, with the permission of the harbour authorities, where an NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue vehicle assisted in the recovery of the carcass to a landing zone where the remainder of fishing nets were cut free of the whale and all rope and fishing nets were recovered.
NSRI sea rescue craft have towed the whale carcass to deep sea where the carcass was released.
The operation completed at 18h56.
SAWDN commends NSRI for the assistance rendered in this lengthy operation, the Coega Port Authorities for their assistance and the crew of the Purse Seiner who assisted.
Samples from the carcass were collected for the Department of Environment and marine scientists.
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