Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


Humpback in Faxaflói bay rescued from fishing nets by teams from Iceland, UK and USA

By Staff

  • Rescue operations Experts from IFAW US and the British Marine Mammal Entanglement team rescue a humpback whale in Faxaflói bay. Photo from the Facebook page of Elding Whale Watching.

A group of experts from the US and UK managed to rescue a humpback whale which had gotten entangled in fishing gear. Previous attempts by the Icelandic Coast Guard to untangle the whale had been unsuccessful.

According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Company the whale seemed to be caught in a lumpfish net, or some other very fine-meshed netting. It is believed the whale had been dragging the net along with him for two months. The net was not only restricting the whale’s movement, the micro-filament nylon in the net had also dug into his flesh by the tail fin, causing a large wound.

A previous rescue attempt had been unsuccessful
The whale had been discovered several weeks ago in Faxaflói bay dragging large pieces of fishing nets. Whale watching firms operating out of the old harbour in Reykjavík had been monitoring the whale, which seemed able to feed and move around. Earlier this month the Icelandic Coast Guard and teams from the whale watching companies operating in the old harbour made an attempt to cut the whale loose, but were only partially successful.

Read more: Attempts made to free a humpback whale that had gotten tangled in fishing gear: Photos

A second operation during the weekend, by a team of experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare US and the British Marine Mammal Entanglement was more successful. Initially it was expected the operation would take several days, as the whale was swimming around at great speed, making it very difficult to approach. However, the experts managed to cut the whale free two days and 19 hours after the second rescue operation was launched.

The reward: A free and grateful whale
According to a post on the web page of Elding Whale Watching Reykjavík, which was one of the three whale watching companies who had monitored the whale since it was first discovered on July 31, the whale was first attached with buoys to slow it down and exhaust it so that the experts could approach it with the right tools. The netting which had wrapped around the lower jaw and mouth of the whale and its tail was then cut off piece by piece.

"Overnight the whale was attached with a satellite transmitter so that we could find it at ease the following day and at 6am this morning we were off for round two finding the whale about 18km from where we left it. It still has a bit of net attached but this will fall of in time. After the net was cut and loose the whale seemed in good spirits and raised it´s tail nice and high showing us that´s it ok."

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