SAWDN volunteers on the sea rescue craft Jaytee III use cutting gear to free a Bryde whale from an entanglement in a fishing rope. PHOTO: SAWDN

Johannesburg - A Bryde Whale was assisted on Friday, in a disentanglement operation off-shore of Hangklip in the Western Cape, the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) said.

SAWDN spokesperson Craig Lambinon said at around 11.38am, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Gordons Bay and NSRI Hermanus were requested to investigate suspicions of a whale that may be entangled in rope and a floatation buoy off-shore of Hangklip.

"Eye-witnesses reported seeing a large amount of whales staying in one area about one kilometer South East of the Hangklip Hotel and a floatation buoy in amongst the whales, and the whales had been there since the early morning, raising concerns that one or more of the whales may be entangled in fishing rope," Lambinon said.

He said the SAWDN volunteers from Hermanus, took the SAWDN cutting equipment with them, in case it was found to be a confirmed entanglement, aboard two NSRI Hermanus sea rescue craft, South Star and Jaytee III.

On arrival on the scene, a Bryde Whale (a large calf, close to being weaned) was found with rope entangled around its tail and it appeared as if the same rope was entangled through the mouth of the whale, Lambinon said.

"It appeared that the mother was there as a large adult whale remained in close proximity while the SAWDN crew began cutting at the rope to free the entangled whale," Lambinon said.

"After all rope was cut free, using the specialised cutting equipment, the rope and a floatation buoy was recovered and with the whale released and swimming freely the whale joined its mom and they both swam off and the whale appeared healthy. The eye-witnesses are commended for alerting SAWDN."

SAWDN head, Mike Meyer, said this was the first whale assisted by the SAWDN.

African News Agency/ANA