To date, 208 whales have been saved by the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), which covers the entire South African coastline; the latest, a 10-metre Humpback Whale.
Yzerfontein, South Africa (11 June 2021) – The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) answered the call to help a 10-metre humpback whale entangled in fishing line and flotation buoys. This marked rescue number 208 for the volunteer-run organisation.
The teams got the call yesterday at 09h40 SAWDN volunteers and NSRI Yzerfontein sea rescue crew launched from the Yzerfontein harbour aboard the sea rescue craft Rotary Onwards following reports from a research team of a whale entangled in fishing rope lines in the vicinity of Dassen Island on the West Coast.
‘On arrival on the scene, we found that the crew of the research vessel had managed to cut 1 fishing line free of an at least 10-metre Humpback whale which remained entangled in 2 fishing rope lines, with floatation buoys attached, and with 3 wraps of fishing rope line around the caudal peduncle.
Fishing rope was leading to the sea bed, and the whale was not swimming freely but had reasonable freedom of movement in the water.
Using specialized cutting equipment, 3 cuts were made to the entangled fishing rope in intervals over a period of around 30 minutes, and after the 3rd cut was made, the whale swam away freely.
The fishing rope and floatation buoys were recovered. No visible damage to the whale was observed, and the whale appeared to be healthy. SAWDN are satisfied with the success of this disentanglement operation. The skipper and crew of the research vessel are commended for their support in this operation.’
The South African Whale Disentanglement Network 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,
- Various Boat Based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving Operators,
- The Rock Lobster Industry and the Octopus Industry and,
- Dolphin Action and Protection Group.