At 08h13, Tuesday, 17 March, SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were activated following reports from a fishing vessel of a whale entangled in fishing ropes South West of Dassen Island.NSRI Yzerfontein sea rescue craft Rotary Onwards was launched with four NSRI crew members on board.On arrival on the scene, an 8 meter juvenile Humpback whale was located entangled in fishing rope. The whale was lying on its back.One rope went from the tail, through the mouth and back to the tail, four ropes were tightly wrapped around the caudal peduncle and there were four ropes wraps around the tail.Attached to the ropes around the tail were 8 flotation buoys. The whale was not anchored to the seabed and kept moving.The whale was assessed and a grapple was attached to the rope holding the flotation buoys.The first two cuts to rope were made on the rope that went through the whale’s mouth. The third cut was made on one of the ropes that went around the caudal peduncle followed by one cut of the rope wrapped around the tail.After these cuts were made, one from the caudal peduncle and one from the tail, all the ropes wrapped around the caudal peduncle and the tail came loose. The last cut was made closely to the whale’s mouth, shortening the rope considerably.On investigation it was then confirmed that all rope line was cut free and the rope and flotation buoys were recovered.The whale swam away confidently and the crew were satisfied that the operation has been successful.The flotation buoys were retrieved and taken to a fishing vessel anchored at Huisbaai, Dassen Island.On arrival to Huisbaai it was observed that a rope was entangled around the fishing vessel's propeller shaft.Two NSRI rescue swimmers free dived underneath the vessel and cut the rope free and recovered the rope.NSRI rescue craft Rotary Onwards was recovered at 11h15 at NSRI Yzerfontein base.
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, 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: 200