Posted by: The ocean update | June 30, 2015

Dangerous high-seas rescue frees ‘hog-tied’ humpback off B.C. coast (Canada)

A rescue team from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans frees a humpback whale spotted in distress off the B.C. coast. June 28, 2015.

A rescue team from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans frees a humpback whale spotted in distress off the B.C. coast. June 28, 2015.

June 30th, 2015. A distressed humpback anchored to the sea floor with fishing ropes was rescued by a Department of Fisheries team and set free, the third time in a week that rescuers had to untangle whales trapped in ropes or lines.

“The whale just took off like a shot. It was really amazing. We were exhausted and the whale was exhausted but it should make a full recovery,” said Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.The large humpback was spotted towing floats and ropes by a boater off Cape Beale early Sunday. Within four hours a specialized team arrived and spent another seven hours patiently assessing then cutting free the massive sea animal.

“It’s just really a tremendously powerful animal so you have to be patient, take your time, tire the animal out and get up to where you can  close enough to where you can make those key (rope) cuts,” said Cottrell.

At one point, rescuers had to lift the fluke of the 35-foot animal’s tail to slice away the U.S. crab gear which was wrapped so tight it was cutting into the flesh of the 30 to 40 tonne whale.

Cottrell said rescuers took their time battling wind and poor visibility. “You don’t want to go cutting until you have evaluated and this is very very dangerous.”

In the past week, DFO has released three endangered humpbacks tangled in crab gear, prawn gear and long lines.

Anybody who sees a whale in trouble is urged to call 1-800-465-4336.

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