The whale photographed on NSRI's arrival on the scene. The whale was rescued on Tuesday off-shore of Clovelly. PHOTO: Supplied/NSRI Simonstown

Johannesburg - A Southern Right whale was successfully disentangled off-shore of Clovelly, between Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek, in Cape Town on Tuesday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

NSRI Simonstown station commander Darren Zimmerman said the NSRI duty crew was activated at around 4.21pm by the Transnet National Ports Authority following eye-witness reports of a whale entangled in rope.

The NSRI Simonstown sea rescue craft, Spirit of Surfski II, carrying South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) cutting equipment was launched, followed by the NSRI Simonstown sea rescue craft, Spirit of Safmarine III. 

Zimmerman said the rescue craft were accompanied by members of SAWDN, while NSRI Kommetjie responded with additional SAWDN cutting equipment in the sea rescue craft, IL Battello.

"The NSRI Simonstown rescue vehicle was dispatched to Clovelly parking area to assist with communications and crowd assistance and Cape Town Traffic Services responded to assist with traffic control at Main Road, Clovelly, where a bottle neck on the roadway was caused from concerned onlookers and traffic flow was further hampered by road works taking place in the area," Zimmerman said.

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He said the sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski II, arrived swiftly on the scene first and found a large Southern Right whale, about 10 to 12 meters in length, entangled with at least eight wraps of rope around its tail.

"The whale appeared to be healthy and it was very active. Using the SAWDN cutting gear we immediately began cutting away at the rope and we were able to cut free all of the wraps of rope which were recovered and the whale swam away appearing to be healthy and the disentanglement operation has been successful," Zimmerman said.

"Our NSRI Simonstown sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and the NSRI Kommetjie sea rescue craft IL Battello then arrived to join us on the scene and together we investigated additional Southern Right whales that were in the area at the time and all of the whales that we encountered were swimming freely with no further entanglements identified."

Zimmerman said the operation was successfully completed at around 5.47pm.