Help for a tangled whale
When the mayday call came in about a stricken humpback whale entangled with a crayfish pot rope several Whangamata¯ locals immediately swung into action.
Whangamata¯ harbourmaster Steve Wise learned of the whale’s difficulties about noon on Sunday while he was already out on the water. After checking withdoc, he was given the go-ahead to try to help free the stricken whale.
The skipper of private local launch, the Carol Ann, who was fishing in the harbour nearby, also helped look for the whale, he said.
Three other boats had followed the whale. It was in about 30m deep water about three nautical miles out to sea between Whangamata¯ and O¯ nemana, he said.
Wise said the rope of a crayfish pot was wrapped around the whale’s tail and had been dragged behind it for quite a few miles.
Armed with a knife, a rope on a winch and with two other men giving directions, they cautiously approached the whale.
“As I quietly came up behind the whale, the skipper of the Carol Ann managed to grab the rope with a boat hook and wrapped it around the winch on the bow of my boat.”
With the other skipper guiding him, he managed to unravel the rope from the whale’s tail before hauling the crayfish pot onto the winch.
“The whale was free and it swam off beautifully, then it suddenly dived and we never saw it again. It was a pretty awesome feeling to see it do that,” he said. Wise said there were lots of high fives and feelings of “jubilation”.