Trapped whale freed by SAWDN, NSRI St Francis Bay (photos)

A juvenile Humpback whale entangled in rope and buoys near St Francis Bay was freed by SAWDN and local NSRI volunteers yesterday.

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The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) said at 2.12 pm yesterday, 15 September, it was activated by reports of the trapped 10-meter whale about 18 nautical miles offshore. NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew launched the rescue craft Spirit Of St Francis II and responded, transporting volunteer members of SAWDN to the whale.

The whale was found to be entangled in three loops of rope around its tail and held buoyant by a flotation buoy. It appeared to be anchored to traps at the end of the line on the ocean floor.

One cut, using the specialised whale disentanglement equipment, through two of the ropes immediately set the whale free of all of the rope and the whale swam off. It appeared healthy and was diving confidently.

“We are confident that this operation has been successful and that the whale has survived,” SAWDN says.

Marc May, station commander of NSRI St Francis Bay, who was also part of the whale disentanglement operation yesterday commented to St Francis Chronicle: “Well done to a great crew (who are qualified to perform this type of operation) and to Stuart o Bra. Sara Smith, Mike Hay and Louis Fouche who searched until they found the whale and cut it free!”

Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with radio communications. The operation was completed by 6 pm.

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The South African Whale Disentanglement Network Is a volunteer network that began in 2006 made up of volunteers from the Department Of Environmental Affairs – Oceans And Coasts, NSRI, the Dolphin Action And Protection Group, SA National Parks, The SAP, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Research Organisations, The Natal Sharks Board, Table Mountain National Parks, West Coast Wildlife Rescue And a host of other marine and environmental groups.

(Press release edited by St Francis Chronicle)

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