Right Whale Disentangled off South African Coast

Picture. Dave Hurwitz/SAWDN.

March 17, 2014

Members of the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were informed of a whale in distress off St James Beach, said Craig Lambinon of the National Sea Rescue Institute.

 

The network was established in 2006 following an increase in the number of entrapments of whales and dolphins off the country’s 3 000km coastline.

 

Members of SAWDN arrived at the scene to find “a juvenile southern right whale, estimated less than a year old, … distressed and seemed to be struggling to get above water to breath,” Lambinon told The Citizen.

 

In a statement, Dave Hurwitz of SAWDN outlined what happened.

 

“After a brief initial assessment found five ropes entangled around the tail and one rope entangled around the head, with a laceration of the lip, visible rope marks around the body, and a laceration around the peduncle (tail stock), a rope was cut by the SAWDN team about a meter from the tail,” he noted.

 

Cutting the rope seemed to disentangle the whale; when it rotated its body much of the rope around its body fell away. But then it was then noticed that a second rope was still trapping the whale.

 

The drama took place about 600m offshore. The whale was completely freed of its entanglement after the SAWDN team cut the second rope.

 

“At first the whale continued to thrash about, giving us the impression that it did not know that it had been cut free,” said Hurwitz. “A short while later [it] seemed to realise that it was free and it swam off confidently.”

 

Eye-witnesses later reported seeing a juvenile southern right whale swimming in the area in the vicinity of Murdoch Valley. SAWDN volunteers believe it was the same whale, Hurwitz said.

From: The Citizen

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