Whale freed from fishing nets

At midday yesterday members of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) and NSRI Mossel Bay were activated following reports from eye-witnesses of a whale appearing to be entangled in fishing off-shore of Suiderkruis near Mossel Bay and heading in the direction of Mossel Bay approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore.

No small boats or rigid inflatable boats were immediately available so only the larger 9 meter NSRI sea rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer could be used in this operation.

On arrival in the vicinity of the eye-witness reports, a search commenced and during the search the volunteers found an adult Southern Right whale with her albino calf between Hartenbos and Suiderkruis and the whale had a large amount of fishing nets, ropes and flotation buoys entangled around her tail fin.

Using the specialized cutting equipment the volunteers manouvred the boat and after numerous attempts managed to cut the fishing nets, rope and flotation buoys free of the whale.

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The fishing nets were recovered onto the NSRI sea rescue craft and brought to the NSRI Mossel Bay rescue base and are estimated to weigh approximately 100 kilograms.

A small flesh sample of the whale was collected from the net and will be handed to the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts for scientific analysis.

No further action was necessary and the whale and her calf appear to have been in a healthy condition, barring a few minor scratches on the adult whale, as they swam off.

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