Three whales have been assisted off the coast of Cape Town after they became tangled in separate incidents.
On Thursday morning, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) received reports of a whale entangled near Dassen Island.
Volunteers carried out an extensive search to find the large Humpback whale, which was located eight nautical miles South West of Dassen Island. The whale has entangled in four rope wraps around the right flipper, including floatation buoys.
Despite poor underwater visibility and big sea swells, volunteers used kegging lines attached to a larger sea rescue craft to slow the whale down, before using specialised cutting equipment to remove the rope. The rope and floatation buoys were retrieved as part of the operation.
In a second rescue operation, on Friday morning, the SAWDN received reports of another humpback whale entangled near Dassen Island.
The whale was entangled in five rope wraps around the tail, including floatation buoys, and the ropes were lying deep underwater. Using specialised cutting equipment and kegging lines, volunteers were able to slow down the whale and the ropes came free in just one cut. The rope and floatation buoys were retrieved.
In another incident on Friday, the SAWDN received reports from a recreational charter boat of a whale entangled near Oudekraal on the Atlantic Seaboard.
Following an extensive search, with sightings of at least 15 whales that were not entangled, volunteers found the entangled 7.5-metre humpback whale.
The whale was entangled in fishing rope and floatation buoys and trailing an approximately 50 metres of fishing rope behind it.
The trailing rope was cut first. SAWDN volunteers then used kegging lines and specialised cutting equipment to cut the fishing line around the body.
When the rope did not come free, it was discovered fishing rope was wrapped around the tip of the whale’s mouth and holding it shut.
The whale had full view of the approaching boat and kept diving as the volunteers approached. However, on the fifth attempt to approach the whale, the rope came free and the whale was freed.