HUMPBACK WHALE RESCUE · CABO SAN LUCAS
Last Saturday, December 14th, on one of our Pelagic Safari Expeditions we spotted a strange whale blow from a distance, it didn’t take long for us to realize this poor whale was completely entangled in a fishing net. The net covered almost its entire body and and trailed at six to eight meters behind. The whale seemed very exhausted. Luckily our guide assisted a whale rescue workshop with the RABEN* (Red de Asistencia a Ballenas Enmalladas) team in October, and she was able to make direct contact with some of their team to inform them of the incident.
*RABEN in Spanish stands for Mexican whale disentanglement network.
One of the key points for the team to be able to help the whale is for those who spotted it to first take GPS point, send photo evidence and most importantly stay with the whale. When a whale is injured or stressed it is almost impossible to predict its movements and its possible to lose the whale. It came as no surprise to us that our amazing divers joining us on this adventure offered to stay with the whale as long as was needed. We want to thank them so much for their devotion and patience. This was key to the whales’ rescue. As much as we all want to be heroes the most important thing is to notify and assist the experts raising the chances of a safe and complete rescue.
In just under 2 hours the RABEN team arrived. In compliance with the principles and guidelines of the international whale disentanglement commission the team worked hard aboard the boat to cut away at the large net and eventually free the whale. It took about 4 hours to complete the task but we can happily say that the whale was completely freed and swam off in good strength.
The team first managed to tie some buoys to the trailing end of the net in order not to lose the whale. With two extension poles the first freed the part that was covering the whales blow hole and face and then worked on the rest of the body. The whale had its pectoral fins pinned back with the net and showed signs of distress, nevertheless every time it came to the surface it would come up right next to the boat the RABEN team were working on. It was almost as if the whale knew they were trying to help. The team worked tirelessly, slowly cutting away at the net from the sides and pulling it further and further back. This work requires a lot of concentration and patience.
The net this whale was entangled in looked quite new, and had not done much damage to the skin yet, so it is likely that it had happened only a few days prior. This type of nets are very dangerous to wildlife but are still commonly used for sharks and snapper fishing in some towns north of Cabo.
We are very thankful that we were able to not only find and help this whale but most importantly watch it swim away freely. We want to thank our divers on Pelagic Safari Hergen, Dough, Steele, Laura, Micheal and Delaney for being with us on this day. We also want to thank CONANP, SEMARNAT and most importantly RABEN for the work they do to protect these gentle giants and annual visitors to Mexico
If you would like to learn more about RABEN or Donate to them please visit their website https://rabenmexico.org/
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