Whale freed of ropes

2016-03-08 06:00
 A young whale was helped off Bantry Bay after it became entangled in four ropes. PHOTO: SA Whale Disen­tanglement Network

A young whale was helped off Bantry Bay after it became entangled in four ropes. PHOTO: SA Whale Disen­tanglement Network

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An entangled whale was helped off Bantry Bay last week.

Eyewitnesses said a whale seemed to be entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys last Wednesday at around 09:00. Volunteers of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) responded to their reports.

It appears that the whale had first been noticed the night before in the area by paddlers who had then reported it during a morning paddle on Wednesday.

Residents along the Bantry Bay beachfront had also seen the whale and reported it.

The volunteers found the whale, a young 9m Southern Right whale, about one nautical mile off Mouille Point.

The whale, appearing to be healthy and able to move freely, had fishing rope around its front flippers, over its back and wrapped between the two flippers. Four ropes were attached to the flippers with two small flotation buoys on.

Sea conditions were calm but there was very poor water visibility. The whale was followed while attempts were made to cut the rope.

However, the whale kept moving out of reach of the specialised cutting equipment and headed towards deeper water, diving beneath the surface regularly.

A lead rope was attached to the whale, from the rescue craft, so that the whale could be followed.

About five nautical miles off Three Anchor Bay the whale stopped among a kelp bed.

According to Mike Meyer, head of the SAWDN, the whale appeared to be playing with the kelp and seemed extremely calm and friendly.

This enabled the rescue craft to get close enough to the whale so that the volunteers could begin cutting the rope.

At that stage a dense fog had rolled in, hampering visibility further, but efforts to cut the ropes continued and the volunteers are confident that all four ropes were cut before visibility was completely lost.

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