Humpback Whale
Photo Credit: NSRI

NSRI St Francis Bay sea rescue craft accompanied by the SA Whale Disentanglement Network saved a humpback whale from fishing nets.


St Francis Bay, South Africa – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) activated on Monday the 24th at 10 am after receiving several eye witness reports of a large female Humpback Whale accompanied by her calf entangled in fishing rope and two flotation buoys off Seabreeze and heading in the direction of St Francis Bay.

Two NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue crafts accompanied by SAWDN volunteers and a SAWDN volunteer whale watching boat responded. When the team arrived, they found the mother entangled in 2 wraps of fishing rope and trailing fishing rope attached to two flotation buoys.

“We rendezvoused with the entangled whale and her calf 1 nautical miles off Van Stadens.”

“2 Kegging lines were attached to the trailing rope and an additional line was run to one of the NSRI sea rescue craft to trail behind the whale in an effort to slow her down. This proved successful, giving the SAWDN members an opportunity to get close enough to the whale.

Using a rescue knife, our SAWDN volunteers cut one rope free of the whale and then pulled on a remaining rope entangled around the body of the whale – that rope came free and all rope and the flotation buoys were recovered.”

In her own way, she thanked the team for freeing her from the ropes; they said she was seen to be breaching. An image of the breaching was captured on the NSRI’s onboard monitor.

The rescue mission was completed at 2:38 pm. To date, the SAWDN have saved a total of 184 whales. They cover the entire South African coastline, working with local teams to assist any whales in need.

“SAWDN express gratitude to the many members of the public who kept SAWDN and NSRI updated to the position of the whales that had covered a good 15 kilometres from where the first reports were received to where we rendezvoused with her.”

The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was established in 2006 to manage entangled whales using specialised equipment. They work with highly trained volunteers from several networks, including:

  • National Sea Rescue Institute,
  • Telkom Maritime Radio Services,
  • KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board,
  • Department of Environmental Affairs,
  • Centre for Sustainable Oceans at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology,
  • Cape Nature,
  • Mammal Research Institute,
  • South African National Parks,
  • South African Police Service,
  • Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries,
  • Bayworld,
  • Various Boat Based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving Operators,
  • The Rock Lobster Industry and the Octopus Industry and,
  • Dolphin Action and Protection Group.

Sources: NSRI
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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