Entangled whale freed at Table Bay

Members of the Department of Environment Oceans and Coasts and the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) cut away rope from a whale, using specialised whale disentanglement cutting equipment at Table Bay today.


Photo: Department of Environmental Affairs

It took quite some time to free the  15 meter Southern Right adult whale, heavily entangled in multiple heavy thick rope that covered the under belly and around the tail with two separate entanglements.

According to Mike Meyer of the Department of Environment Oceans and Coasts, at 8.45 am this morning, 16 January 2013, SAWDN members were activated following reports from the Transnet National Ports Authority of a whale entangled in heavy rope just off-shore of the Breakwater at the Port of Table Bay. Members launched a rigid inflatable boat and responded to the scene.

 Meyer recounted  the whale appeared to be lethargic and gave an impression from its calm demeanour that it was tired and may have been entangled for quite some time. It is believed the whale is in a poor condition.

“We began to cut away rope from the whale but it soon became apparent that the whale has been entangled for a long while as some of the rope has become embedded deeply in the whales blubber,” Meyer said. “Due to the severity of the situation additional support was sought and the SAP Sea Border Control launched a rigid inflatable boat to join in the operation, providing a much needed additional floating platform for us to use to carry out the task of cutting rope away from the whale.”

A total of 27 cuts were made in attempts to free rope from the whale and a large large portion of rope has been successfully freed from the whale.

“A large laceration is apparent on the whale’s Caudal Peduncule where the flutes join. While we are optimistic that with most of the rope freed from the whale there is a chance this relief will see the whale back to health, the bits of rope that remain embedded in the blubber of the whale are a concern,” Meyer added.

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