PICS: Whale chained to ocean floor rescued off Cape coast

Cape Town - A Humpback whale was successfully rescued by the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN)  after being trapped to the sea floor on Monday, 15 August.

The SAWDN volunteers were activated following eye-witness reports of a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys, approximately 400m off-shore of Glencairn between Fish Hoek and Simonstown.

Craig Lambinon, spokesperson for the SAWDNk, said the the 7.5m juvenile Humpback whale was found with rope entangled around the left and right flukes, around the caudal peduncle (at least three wraps around each) and a chain anchoring the whale to the seafloor.

SAWDN volunteers initially began cutting at the lines using the specialised cutting equipment from the rigid inflatable sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II. After a while the anchored chain snapped, causing the whale (still attached to the sea rescue craft) to tow the sea rescue craft at about three knots.

Attempts were continued by SAWDN volunteers to cut at the lines, despite being towed along by the whale, which was by now about a nautical mile off-shore. As a result a second, larger deep-sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III was brought in to assist.  Added to this the cutting efforts were hampered from time to time when the agitated whale thrashed its tail.


Photo: Sally Sivewright - Department of Environmental Affairs - Oceans and Coasts.

Photo: Sally Sivewright - Department of Environmental Affairs - Oceans and Coasts.

Photo: Sally Sivewright - Department of Environmental Affairs - Oceans and Coasts.

The difficult and intense disentanglement operation eventually cut through at least 9 ropes, causing damage to some of the specialised cutting equipment but ultimately the animal was freed from all of the ropes.

Mike Meyer, head of SAWDN, and from the Department of Environmental Affairs - Oceans and Coasts, said that it appears that the whale is healthy, despite a few nicks and abrasions.

"The whale swam off strongly and all indications are that the animal has survived. Meyer said they are satisfied that the operation has been successful." 

On a lighter whale spotting note, Walker Bay are is said to be in full swing for whale season. 

Hermanus hosts the annual Whale Festival that attracts visitors from all walks of life. This year the masses will arrive for the annual Whale Festival from 30 September to 2 October. The whales, however, do not arrive only for the festival. They grace Walker Bay from as early as June through to November. It is no surprise that Hermanus has been included under the top12 whale watching destinations in the world byWWF, as you are guaranteed to spot the giants between September and November.

Click here to see the handy whale watching guide and get whale spotting!

To get our travellers in the whale watching mood, we have selected a few of our favourite whale shots. A reminder of why visitors keep coming back to meet up with these magnificent creatures. 


What to read next on Traveller24:

A Whale-spotting wine escape in Hermanus

Winter whale watching: Spotting the creatures of the deep around SA’s coasts

WATCH: A tiger went prowling in Pretoria

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