A whale that appeared to be in trouble was spotted just offshore from the Breakwater at the Port of Table Bay yesterday morning and members of the Department of Environment and the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) immediately launched an inflatable boat to investigate.
They found the whale, a 15 meter male Southern Right, to be heavily entangled in multiple heavy thick rope that covered the under belly and around the tail with two separate entanglements.
“The whale appeared to be lethargic and gave us the impression, from its calm demeanor, that it was tired and may have been entangled for quite some time and we could see that the whale was in a poor condition” said Mike Meyer from the Department.
“We began to cut away rope from the whale, using specialized whale disentanglement cutting equipment, and 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” added Meyer.
Due to the severity of the situation additional support was sought and the SA Police Services 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.
In total 27 cuts were made in attempts to free rope from the whale and a large portion of rope was successfully removed from the whale.
“A large laceration is apparent on the whales Caudal Peduncule, where the flutes join and while we are optimistic that with most of the rope freed from the whale there is a chance that the relief will see the whale back to health although the bits of rope that remain embedded in the blubber of the whale are a concern,” said Meyer.