An 11-meter Bryde Whale carcass was towed to the Coega harbour on Saturday after the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers cut it out of fishing nets off the coast of Port Elizabeth.
The operation got underway after SAWDN volunteers were activated at 08:38 on Saturday following reports that the carcass had got entangled in the fishing nets of the Purse Seiner. The fishing boat was about 7 nautical miles off-shore of the Port of Port Elizabeth.
"NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated and SAWDN volunteers accompanied three NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft, Spirit of Toft, JLT Rescuer and Spirit of Surfski 4 and rendezvoused with the Purse Seiner that had the whale carcass in fishing nets.
"An operation commenced with the SAWDN volunteers using the specialised cutting equipment in cooperation with NSRI coxswains and NSRI crew manoeuvering the sea rescue craft to assist in the disentanglement operation," SAWDN spokesperson Craig Lambinon said in a statement on Sunday.
Lambinon said once the operation was completed the carcass was towed to the harbour where an NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue vehicle assisted in its recovery to a landing zone where the remainder of fishing nets were cut free of the whale and all rope and fishing nets were recovered.
"Samples from the carcass were collected for the Department of Environmental Affairs and marine scientists," Lambinon said.
He added that the carcass was later towed to the deep sea where it was released.
"SAWDN commends NSRI for the assistance rendered in this lengthy operation, the Coega Port Authorities for their assistance and the crew of the Purse Seiner who assisted," Lambinon concluded.
- Compiled by Vanessa Banton.