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article imageAmazing rescue of humpback whale caught on GoPro (Video)

By Anne Sewell     May 18, 2014 in Environment
Santa Barbara - Back on April 27, rescuers found a humpback whale in Monterey Bay with a steel rope wrapped around its tail and dragging a 300-pound crabpot. The whale was in serious trouble, but has this week finally been freed.
Alisa Janiger was on a Monterey Bay Whale Watch boat on April 27, when she realized buoys were following the humpback wherever it moved. This YouTube video shows rescuers approaching the whale at that time.
"We called for assistance, alerted the disentanglement team, and remained on site with this whale...until help could arrive," Janiger said.
A Whale Entanglement Team, comprising NOAA officials and marine biologists went out to the whale on April 28 and found the whale was unable to dive to feed, due to the 300-pound crabpot attached to it. Rescuers described how three other humpbacks swam up, as if checking on their friend.
The team managed to free the whale from the crabpot at that point, but before they could cut away all the steel rope from its tail, the weather changed. Strong winds and 10-foot waves forced them to stop. The team said if it wasn’t for the weather, they could have finished the job then and there, but it was not to be.
They did, however, attach a satellite tracker to the whale to ensure they could find it again and finally weather conditions were right on Thursday to try again.
They tracked down the tired humpback off the coast of Santa Barbara. According to Peggy Stap of Moss Landing-based Marine Life Studies, it was “absolutely exhausted and had been through so much.” She calculated that it had traveled 684 nautical miles since they first found it in Monterey.
Apparently the rope was so tightly wrapped around the whale’s tail that it would have eventually been severed, and the whale would have then died. However, they managed to cut away the remaining rope before 9 a.m. Thursday and finally the humpback swan swam away, free at last.
It was all caught on video and according to rescuers the humpback will fully recover from its ordeal.
After the amazing rescue, Stap said she was so excited, she found it hard to speak, but she said that rescuers are almost positive the whale will be fine, saying, “They have a remarkable ability to heal. It wouldn't have made it if we didn't remove the rope," adding, "It was so gratifying to see that whale swim free."
Caught on an HD GoPro camera, the video above shows rescuers leaning from the small inflatable boat to free the whale.
More about monterey bay, Humpback whale, Rescue, Monterey Bay Whale Watch, NOAA
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