RNLI volunteers from Salcombe and Dart rescue a humpbacked whale
Ten days after being freed from a line of whelk pots off Blackpool Sands in South Devon the whale returned and was ensnared again.
The RNLI Dart inshore lifeboat (ILB)was already involved in the rescue of a rowing team on the River Dart on Saturday 1 April and was tasked to assist the Salcombe Tamar class all-weather lifeboat when the ILB had refuelled and had a crew change.
The Salcombe lifeboat located the whale a quarter of a mile offshore opposite Matts Point in Start Bay, slightly west of where she had been trapped previously.
The Dart lifeboat put two volunteer crewmen on the Tamar and fetched Ali Jones from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team to assess the situation. She found that the weight of pots was far greater than on the previous occasion and it was decided to use the winch on the Tamar to lift the buoyed line.
Ali was joined by David McDonald from the BDMLR and he and Chris Tracey from the inshore lifeboat crew cut the pots free as they came to the surface including a particularly heavy entangled mesh of the pots.
Eventually only a single line ran from around the whale to the seabed and Chris was able to cut this and the whale was freed again.
It took two lifeboats with complementary capabilities to complete this rescue and shows the value of volunteer lifeboat crews training with their flank stations and being willing and able to professionally assist volunteers from other organisations such as those from the BDMLR team.
RNLI Media Contacts: John Fenton, RNLI Dart Lifeboat Press officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile 07970 921504.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.