Eight metre humpback whale rescued from line of whelk pots
The 15 ton whale had been feeding with her calf in Start Bay for the last three weeks when she became caught by her tail by a heavy line of whelk pots.
The RNLI Dart D class inshore lifeboat launched to assist and provide safety cover for divers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation. The lifeboat took two divers out to assess the situation and they found that the whale had become snared by a line of pots that was anchored to the sea bed a quarter of a mile off Blackpool Sands in Start Bay, South Devon. Cutting equipment was brought out from the beach and initially the crew and the drivers attempted to pull the line close enough to the lifeboat to cut it. When this was shown to be impractical the all weather lifeboat from Salcombe was asked to assist and two of their crew were put aboard the fishing boat belonging to the owner of the pots, with the divers and members of the Dart lifeboat crew. The whale was then gently guided closer by pulling on the line until it became possible for a diver to reach down from the side of the fishing boat and to cut the line. When she had been freed the whale sped off and joined her calf.
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.