British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2006-05-24 15:58:12

Entangled whale rescued from ropes by Navy divers - Scotland

Earlier today, divers aboard the MOD ship MV Tormentor cut free a humpback whale which had become caught in ropes attached to creel pots. [1]

The Coastguard reported to BDMLR’s [2] Skye Coordinator that a 'whale' of unknown species had become caught in creel ropes in the Sound of Raasay near Applecross [3]. MOD divers aboard the MOD vessel 'Tormentor', already on an exercise in the area, raced to try and free the whale from the ropes. The whale was aHumpback whale and possibly an adult.

BDMLR Director Alan Knight was in direct contact with Lieutenant Richard Watson on the MV Tormentor, a navy diver at the scene. Lieutenant Watson was given advice on possible rescue techniques and used 'safe knives' to cut the whale free. Three lines were originally attached to the whale and it was in danger of drowning while still attached to the creel pots. The divers managed to free two lines but were unable to reach third which was attached, loosely, around the tail stock of the whale but this line has now been seen to free itself.

Alan Knight said, "We are delighted that the Navy have managed to free this whale from what would have been a slow and certain death. I was able to closely liaise with Lieutenant Watson about the type of whale and advice on its condition. It seems that the whale has survived with only very minor abrasions, it was very lucky that the Navy were willing able to help it. For this we are very grateful."

Coincidentally, a team of BDMLR members is travelling to the US later this week to train with the Center for Coastal Studies [3] in whale disentanglement. BDMLR will also be equipped with a whale disentanglement kit including a satellite telemetry buoy for tracking entangled whales, as well as many other items. The training trip and kit have been funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

BDMLR, the UK's leading marine animal rescue organisation, has become increasingly concerned by the number of whale entanglements happening around the world. The team consists of: BDMLR Directors Alan Knight, Mark Stevens and Geoff Hammock as well as BDMLR Medics James Brett and Rod Penrose.

Alan Knight said, "There have been a handful of incidents in UK waters over the last few years and as a result it has been decided to train a team in this highly specialised and sometimes dangerous rescue work. We are very grateful to IFAW for funding this training trip and equipment and we hope in the future to be able to put the skills we will learn to rescue any unfortunate animals which become entangled around the UK."

The BDMLR Team will be arriving in Boston on Friday and the Course will be run over 5 days with classroom and practical sessions. Also, if a whale entangles while they are there we will be able to observe the rescue process.

[1] Creels are the 'pots' used to catch lobsters, crabs etc

[2] British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is proud of the fact that they are an entirely voluntary organisation (registered charity: 803438). It is the UK's leading marine animal rescue organisation.

[3] Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies