Whale freed after being caught in ropes near Cape Point

2015-07-08 22:20


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Johannesburg - A humpback whale was found entangled in rope and buoys one nautical mile off-shore of Olifantsbospunt in Cape Point on Wednesday, the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) said.

The whale was entangled in rope and buoys which are part of research presently being conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said SAWDN spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

He said the department’s research vessel is presently doing rock lobster research in the area.

While the network responded just after noon, things were not that simple.

Head of the SAWDN Mike Meyer said: “A complication was presented with the rope itself being almost 20mm thick meaning that the specialised cutting equipment would be tested to their limit.”

The whale was entangled in five wraps of rope around its caudal peduncle, which is the narrow part of a marine mammal's body where the tail is attached. There was also two flotation buoys and two wraps of rope around its left fluke (flat end of the tail) and one wrap of rope around its right fluke, Lambinon said.

He said the whale was anchored to the traps on the sea bed and it took 40 minutes to disentangle the mammal.

Meyer said because of the thick rope, it took two SAWDN volunteers to pull on the cutting poles at the same time while cutting on each wrap.

He said one pole was damaged beyond repair as a result – from the weight of the rope and from the effort required to cut through it.

Once free, the SAWDN followed the whale to ensure that it was “healthy and strong”, despite some damage to its tail.

Read more on:    cape town  |  marine life  |  conservation  |  animals

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