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Humpback Entangle.wmv

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Published on Feb 12, 2010

Wilfred Chivell, founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and owner of whale watching company, Dyer Island Cruises (DIC), is part of the South African Whale Disentanglement Network set up by Marine and Costal management (MCM).
On Saturday 27 June 2009, he was informed of an entangled whale by Jason Stafford of Ivanhoe Safaris in Gansbaai. The whale was in Walker Bay close to the Kelders caves. After consulting with Mike Meyer of MCM and informing Deon Geldenhuys of Cape Nature, Wilfred together with Michael Rutzen (White Shark Diving Unlimited), and Kira and Kwezi of DIC set out to help the whale on board Calypso. Having to brave 4 metre swells, they headed out to assist the whale.
At 14:20, a humpback whale was spotted with a 50 m yellow 20mm polyethylene rope trailing behind it and with a red and white and a yellow buoy attached a metre behind the fluke. After assessing the situation, we attached the boat to the whale to tire the animal out. We added two big red floats to the whale and after an hour started to cut ropes loose. The tail was entangled around the base and around the flukes. It was difficult as the tail never emerged and in the process of removing the buoys, a cutting device and two extension poles were lost in the process. The two large buoys and one small buoy, a piece of metal anchor and 50 meters of rope were removed, but a piece of rope still remained around the tail base and fluke. We attached ourselves to the whale twice after that as the remainder of rope was very short. We tried to unravel the rope, did another cut and attached a float to the whale once more. As the whale moved into the breaker zone, we had to fall back to wait for her to go deeper again. The motion of the breaking surf freed her from the remaining rope and float and she swam free. We got close to her once more and could see the white marks around the tail, but no ropes were attached any more. The whale was remarkably calm from the start and allowed us to come very close without showing any evasive behaviour. Although we lost a cutting device, two poles and a buoy, we were fortunate to free the heavily entangled whale within two hours. We will try to recover the buoy on the beach tomorrow.

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