Operation under way to free entangled whale

QUICK RESPONSE: Department for Environment and Water specialist marine disentanglement officers have arrived in the South East, hoping to free a nine-metre humpback whale entangled in fishing equipment off the Port MacDonnell coastline.

SPECIALIST marine disentanglement officers are working to locate and free a nine-metre humpback whale entangled in fishing equipment off the Port MacDonnell coast today.

The juvenile whale was last spotted two nautical miles off the coast yesterday by a commercial fisher, entwined in ropes and floats.

Poor visibility and choppy seas are currently hindering rescue efforts, with adverse weather conditions ruling out the use of aircraft in the Department for Environment and Water-led search.

It is hoped the specialist team will locate and disentangle the distressed whale later today as worsening weather – including strong winds – are forecast tomorrow.

Department spokesperson Deb Kelly said the whale was last seen heading east and appearing fatigued.

“DEW marine officers travelled to the region last night with special disentanglement gear and will be joined in the rescue attempt today by colleagues from the south east and PIRSA Fisheries officers,” Dr Kelly said.

“Commercial vessels in the area have been asked to report any further sightings of the whale, and if we are unable to locate the mammal we will consider using an aircraft to find it.

“With the whale likely to continue to weaken, there is a risk that it could beach itself, so we are hopeful we can find the mammal soon.

“The whale appears to be tangled tightly by ropes so it will be a difficult operation which may take a few hours once it is located.”

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