Rescuers Rush To Save Humpback Whale Tangled In Fishing Equipment
Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rescuers Rush To Save Humpback Whale Tangled In Fishing Equipment

Rescuers had to rush to the aid of a humpback whale after it became tangled in fishing equipment. The rescue happened off the coast of Victoria's Gippsland. Rescuers came to the animal's aid nearly a week after people first saw it in trouble.

A commercial helicopter first saw the whale near Loch Sport in central Gippsland on June 23. However, the mammal disappeared before rescuers could get to it. Fast forward to last Friday, and the whale resurfaced near Lake Tyers. The Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (Deeca), Victorian Fisheries Authority, and Parks Victoria banned together to save the whale. First, they attached a tracker to the whale to avoid losing it again.

Then they cut off ropes and buoys, which became tangled, off the whale. The ropes had prevented the animal from being able to swim. From there, they removed the fishing equipment with a crane. They wanted to make sure it wouldn't harm other sea life. They removed 185 meters of the 200 meters from the whale. Movement by the creature made rescuing it difficult.

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Rescuers Save Whales

"The whale was so tightly tangled in the ropes and it wasn't traveling very far so we knew it was in real distress," Insp James Dalton of Victoria's water police told The Guardian.  "To safely cut the ropes away, we needed to return the following day to ensure we could successfully remove enough of the rope that it could swim freely again. This was a huge team effort and we're so happy that it had a great outcome."

Right now, experts say the biggest threats to whales are fishing gear, boats, and pollution. Orcas also pose a natural risk as well. On average, whales can live beyond 50 years. The rescue comes after volunteers rescued more than 100 dolphins in Cape Cod. The animals had become trapped in the muddy waters of the bank.

"Dolphin and porpoise strandings on Cape Cod are driven primarily by the gently sloping sand flats, large tidal fluctuations, close proximity to productive feeding grounds, social nature of the species that strand, and the hook-like shape of the Cape itself," The International Fund for Animal Welfare spokeswoman said. "Many of the dolphins and porpoises that strand in this area have no clinically significant pre-existing diseases that cause them to strand."