SAWDN volunteers successfully disentangled whale calf from ropes in False Bay. Photo: SAWDN/NSRI

CAPE TOWN - South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers have successfully disentangled a humpback whale calf from fishing ropes near Simonstown in False Bay, SAWDN spokesman Craig Lambinon said on Sunday.  

SAWDN volunteers launched at 8.32 am on Saturday morning from Simonstown Harbour aboard two National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Simonstown sea rescue craft - Spirit of Safmarine III and Spirit of Surfski II - following reports from a crew on a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) and other eyewitnesses of a whale entangled in fishing rope lines in the vicinity of Millers Point between Simonstown and Cape Point, he said.

''On arrival on the scene we found a humback whale calf entangled in rope around its body and fins and anchored to the sea bed. A larger whale was present which we suspect to be a family member of the calf.

''Quickly and methodically the SAWDN technical crew, using the specialised cutting equipment, cut away at the rope wraps and we estimated 10 to 12 cuts were made, freeing the whale from the entanglement and freeing the whale from the entrapment,'' Lambinon said. 

The whale appeared to be healthy and swam off strongly, accompanied by the larger whale, and SAWDN volunteers were confident that the operation had been successful. NSRI commended the crew of the RIB who stayed on the scene until the volunteers arrived.

Later, eyewitnesses reported two whales they suspected were beaching near Boulders Beach, Simonstown. NSRI Simonstown crew were dispatched to investigate and found two whales ''appearing to be enjoying riding in the waves, but we could not confirm one of the whales was the calf that we had rescued earlier'', Lambinon said.

The humpback whale calf was the 177th whale to be assisted by the SAWDN since its establishment in 2006.

African News Agency