Divers Save Starving Whale Trapped In Fishing Net

CENPublished: April 5, 2018
Published: April 5, 2018

Divers believe they have saved a starving whale that was unable to feed after it got caught up in a fisherman's net.

The grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) was spotted by tourist boats in La Paz bay off the north-western Mexican state of Baja California Sur.

The young whale was around 11 metres (36 feet) long and showing signs of physical weakness from malnutrition as it was unable to feed.

Divers from the Federal Prosecution of Environment Protection launched a rescue operation.

They said it had proved challenging as the huge animal had been completely entangled in the fishing net, from its head to its tail.

The divers concentrated on releasing its head and mouth from the net so it could eat and regain some strength.

They managed to successfully complete this part of the operation but it took so long, and they lost so many knives trying to cut it free, that they had to leave the whale overnight.

The divers marked the whale with a small buouy but when they returned the following morning there was no sign of it despite a five hour search.

A spokesman for the Federal Prosecution of Environment Protection said divers were hopeful they had done enough to save the whale.

"They released the head and mouth completely, which was given priority in order to allow it to feed, thus increasing the chances of survival," he said.

Gray whales can reach a length of 14.9 metres (49 feet), a weight of 36 tonnes (40 short tons), and live between 55 and 70 years.

Populations suffered historically, due to whaling, but they have recovered and grey whales have been seen in new areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea, leading some scientists to think they might be repopulating old breeding grounds.

The round-trip journey of one gray whale set a record for the longest mammal migration, covering a distance of more than 22,000 kilometres (13,670 miles) across the Pacific Ocean.

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