Rescue team frees whale from fishing line
Rescuers managed to cut a humpback whale free from hundreds of feet of fishing line yesterday, allowing him to swim back to the open ocean.
It’s a real life Free Willy story, but it wasn’t easy and in fact the operation took several days.
The whale (unnamed) was still in deep water while struggling with the line, so rescuers had to take a boat out to reach him and lost sight of him on at least one occasion.
The massive creature, believed to be between 35 and 50 feet long, was spotted on October 30 around 45 miles south of Los Angeles.
People who spotted him quickly became concerned when they saw nylon rope streaming behind him as he swam and binding him from mouth to tail.
And although there was a happy ending, the rescue wasn’t easy. At one point 100 feet or rope and buoys were cut away but understandably the whale became agitated by the attention and dove too deep for rescuers to reach, hiding out until it was spotted again the next day 60 miles south.
This time, the team managed to cut away another 230 feet of remaining line, leaving just a little in its mouth.
‘We hope we gave this whale a second chance at life,’ Kelly Terry said, spokeswoman for SeaWorld in San Diego, which sent a team out for the rescue operation.
Everyone is celebrating that the outcome was good for this whale – but it’s just one part of a potentially bigger problem.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have responded to reports of around 50 entangled whales just this year, which could be something to do with warmer waters bringing the giant animals closer to shore, where they encounter fishing gear.
‘Our response network is really just a Band-Aid,’ programme specialist Justin Viezbicke said. ‘We’re looking for ways to be proactive and minimize these situations in the future.’