Disentanglement of a whale is by no means the end of their problems.
According to Dr Bob Bowman - an American expert on whale disentanglement,
- disentanglement is only the first step in the recovery of an
entangled whale. Entangled whales sustain significant bruising
and even sometimes life threatening internal injuries that are
imperceptible without a necropsy. It is very difficult to determine
the extent and effect of injuries on entangled whales and they
are frequently surprised about which whales survive entanglement
trauma and which ones do not.
humpback whale that became entangled in fishing nets was freed
by members of the South African Whale Disentaglement Network (SAWDN)
of Cape Point
on 21 June 2011. Rescuers are seen here trying to cut the ropes
of the whale.
Picture by Chad Chapman
Mike Meyer (Oceans & Coasts) is Director of Operations and
training and with colleagues regularly trains new volunteers as
well as running refresher courses in various key areas around
the coast. All these areas now have trained volunteers ready to
go out to entangled whales at a moment’s notice. It has
taken a great deal of time and effort to get this far and the
Oceans & Coasts team doing this need to be commended, as training
is done in their spare time. SAWDN is also fortunate to have the
use of National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) boats and volunteers
when needed and they are warmly thanked. Volunteers are not allowed
to disentangle whales in rough weather.
Human safety comes first. This is a condition laid down in SAWDN’s
SAWDN continues to go well and its efficient operation has been
praised by overseas countries that have similar disentanglement
Session: Volunteers at Simon's Town Harbour
WARNING: Under Section 3(1) of the Marine Living Resources Act (1998), NO-ONE unless trained and appointed by the Department may render assistance to trapped or entangled whales. These amendments to the Act were gazetted in July 2008.
Further, it is mandatory that all volunteers carry high risk insurance.