Whale freed after being caught in ropes off Cape Point

NSRI officials and volunteers attempting to free a humpback whale. (Supplied, NSRI)
NSRI officials and volunteers attempting to free a humpback whale. (Supplied, NSRI)

Cape Town – A whale caught in flotation buoys and fishing ropes was successfully freed on Sunday, the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) said.

In a statement, spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the SAWDN were alerted to the incident on Saturday by a local fishing ski boat crew off Cape Point.

Mike Meyer, head of SAWDN, said the 8.5m juvenile humpback whale was found trapped on the seabed, entangled in ropes and flotation buoys. The creature appeared to be caught in a rope anchored to rock lobster nets, he said.

Lambinon said least five ropes were entangled around the flukes and tail of the whale.

“The rope was twisted and entangled… and although the whale had minimal movement [it] kept avoiding the efforts by SAWDN to cut at the rope by diving below.”

Strong and healthy

Lambinon said the operation on Saturday evening became hazardous as the whale continued diving. The operation was suspended at 19:00.

On Sunday Lambinon said the animal was found where it was left the previous day. He added that a larger vessel was called in to assist rescue efforts.

According to Lambinon, Gary Nel, an octopus permit holder, volunteered to launch their deep sea fishing vessel, Albatross, from Kalk Bay Harbour to join in the rescue operation.  

“Once on-scene the crew aboard the Albatross were able to lift the lines… leading towards the whale while the SAWDN volunteers cut on the lifted lines.”

Lambinon said the animal was then freed and appeared to be "strong and healthy".

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