Rescuers rush to exhausted young whale dragging ropes, buoys. Then their tool broke

Boaters spotted a young whale struggling in a tangled mess of ropes and buoys off the coast of South Africa. Rescuers rushed to help and were met with a difficult operation, officials said.

The owner of Raggie Charters took a boat of onlookers out whale watching near Gqeberha on Thursday, Sept. 21, the National Sea Rescue Institute said in a Sept. 22 news release. While out, the boaters spotted a young humpback whale tangled in nets.

The boaters alerted the National Sea Rescue Institute which sent help, according to the release.

Rescuers found the 30-foot-long whale dragging about 55 feet of fishing rope and two buoys from its tail fin, the release said. The young animal was exhausted, “tired and lethargic” from the effort.

Using “specializing cutting equipment,” rescuers tried to cut the whale free, officials said. They made some progress, but the ropes were so thick that one of their tools broke.

A photo shows rescuers near the young whale.
A photo shows rescuers near the young whale.

After regrouping, rescuers used a backup tool to finish cutting the “heavy fishing rope,” the release said. The process took about four hours.

Afterward, the humpback whale began to “move freely,” rescuers said in the release.

“We are confident that the whale is healthy and will survive following this successful operation,” they said.

Gqeberha is on the southern coast, about 475 miles east of Cape Town.

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