SAWDN Volunteers Free Whale Near Plett in Furthest Disentanglement Op Ever

The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) successfully rescued a whale today that had become entangled in rope… in what was the furthest disentanglement operation to date. The whale in distress was at least 45 nautical miles off-shore, between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

All photos on this page by SAWDN – “SAWDN trained volunteers cut rope free from a 14 meter juvenile Humpback Whale, 45 nautical miles out to sea off the Southern Cape Coastline.”

The juvenile Humpback whale – of approximately 14 metres – was horribly anchored to the sea bed with fishing rope around its tail and a single floatation buoy.

SAWDN were alerted to the crisis on Sunday morning by a passing boat.

At midday, the NSRI Plettenberg Bay sea rescue craft – carrying SAWDN volunteers and the SAWDN specialised cutting equipment – set off from Plett. At the same time a rescue craft was launched from NSRI Knysna as a back-up safety boat.


Both arrived at 13h50, and the volunteers immediately got to work. “The line around the tail was cut which freed the whale from the anchored entrapment, and then the floatation buoy was cut,” SAWDN said in a media statement.

All lines and the buoy cut free were recovered.

Apparently the cutting operation took 20 minutes before the whale was freed from the rope and buoys. According to rescuers the whale “swam off confidently and we are confident that the operation has been successful and the whale appears to be healthy”.

This is the furthest out to sea that a SAWDN operation has been conducted, according to the statement.

The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was established in 2006 in order to manage entangled whales using specialised equipment and is comprised of trained SAWDN volunteers from several SA services, groups and institutes including SA Police Services and NSRI.

Watch Whale Disentanglement, South Africa

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Source: NSRI