At 07h26, Friday, 30th January, SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated following reports from a fishing vessel of a whale entangled in fishing rope off-shore of Dassen Island.
NSRI Yzerfontein sea rescue craft Rotary Onwards was launched to investigate and SAWDN volunteers from Cape Town were dispatched to join the Yzerfontein SAWDN team.
Following a search a 9 meter Humpback Whale was located entangled in fishing rope through its mouth and 6 wraps of fishing rope around the tail and rope was anchored to the sea bed. One floatation buoy was visible and additional floatation buoys were being held under water with the whales tail being held relatively deep under water by the line anchored to the sea bed.
SAWDN volunteers aboard the NSRI Yzerfontein sea rescue craft Sonja rendezvoused on the scene and using the specialised cutting equipment, in a difficult and delicate disentanglement operation, which included a SAWDN volunteer hanging over the side of the sea rescue craft being held by his ankles and using goggles to aid in underwater visibility in the effort to make the first cut of the rope that was being held deeper under water around the tail stock.
The rope line through the mouth was cut first and then the rope lines around the tail stock were cut individually, the first one at a relatively deep depth, with the last 3 lines being cut in one cut.
On closer investigation, it was confirmed all rope lines were cut free and the rope lines and floatation buoys were recovered.
The whale swam away confidently and SAWDN are satisfied that the whale will survive.
The operation was completed at 13h50.
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 Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, 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: 197