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Volunteers help free trapped whale

Volunteers of the Melkbosstrand SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) assisted a whale entangled in fishing lines and floatation buoys in the vicinity of Dassen Island on the West Coast last week.

The 11m humpback whale was located and found to have a wrap of fishing rope around the right flipper which ran over the tail.

This included four wraps of fishing rope around the caudal peduncle and four wraps of fishing rope around the flukes.

According to SAWDN spokesperson, Craig Lambinon, an Yzerfontein sea rescue craft, Rotary Onwards, was launched carrying SAWDN volunteers.


This followed an extensive search for the humpback.

“The whale appeared to be stressed and was very active and diving beneath the sea surface regularly in what appeared to be an effort to avoid the rescuers. The wraps of fishing rope were attached to multiple floatation buoys and two fishing lines anchored the whale to the seabed. A kegging buoy was attached to the fishing rope on the whale to slow down movement of the whale,” Lambinon said.

On arrival on the scene, the kegging buoy was shifted to the tail of the whale to help keep the whale above water.

The whale continued to dive under water.

However, the kegging buoy assisted to reduce the time the whale remained under water aiding the SAWDN crew to have greater opportunities and more time to cut fishing line off the whale.

Lambinon explained that the cutting operation lasted one and a half hours.

“Once freed from the entanglement, the whale appeared to be healthy with strong movement and SAWDN are confident of the whale’s survival,” he said.

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