Environment SA News

Entangled whale rescue a success

A DEW-led whale disentanglement team have freed a 10-metre humpback whale tangled in fishing gear off the coast of Victor Harbor in the Encounter Marine Park.

Entangled whale rescue a success
The first successful whale disentanglement rescue for South Australia in action.

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) received reports late on 1 April about a sub-adult humpback whale entangled in ropes and floats off Chiton Rocks.

On the back of a successful rescue yesterday (2 April) of a dolphin tangled in fishing line in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, the whale disentanglement team planned the operation and headed out at 8:30am this morning. Volunteer whale spotters monitored the whale throughout the day yesterday.

Drone footage was gathered of the whale this morning to better understand the severity of the entanglement. Four vessels carrying 14 people, rescue gear and equipment headed out approximately 1km from Chiton Rocks to assess the whale before cutting rope to free it.

The 10-metre humpback sub-adult was freed at around 11am today, and then quickly swam further out to sea.

DEW coordinator of whale disentanglement Verity Gibbs said this is the first successful whale disentanglement for South Australia.

“Exercises such as this are complex. It is a relief and such an accomplishment for the team to walk away with the whale completely untangled and able to swim off,” Mrs Gibbs said.

“We had a great team of rangers, who worked with marine scientists, fisheries and marine safety officers who all helped make this disentanglement possible with a successful result.

“I want to make special mention of the department’s Kangaroo Island ranger Paul Jennings. He provided great insight for the rescue from his years of experience freeing entangled whales off the coast of Western Australia – he was a true asset to this rescue mission.”

The 14-member team included 10 DEW staff, two fisheries officers from Primary Industries and Regions SA and two marine safety officers from the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.