Times Colonist

Volunteers free Clayoquot-area humpback snarled by fishing gear

Whale was near death, tour-boat witnesses say

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PORT ALBERNI — A group of volunteers has freed a juvenile humpback whale that had become entangled in fishing gear and was nearing death in Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound.

Whale-watching tour owner John Forde spearheade­d the rescue last Sunday.

"It was in bad shape. It was exhausted and hardly moving at all," Forde said, adding the humpback was likely to die without help.

The creature was barely moving and lines from several crab traps had dug into its flesh and were caught up in its mouth.

The whale was spotted on Saturday, but Forde and his crew were initially unable to locate it.

Then on Sunday, a whalewatch­ing excursion spotted the entangled whale and notified Forde.

After the crew pulled alongside the humpback, Forde located three main lines trailing behind the whale, pulling them into the boat and using them to hoist himself against the eightmetre-long injured whale.

He then cut the appropriat­e ropes to free the humpback, which he said remained calm and still throughout.

First, the lines around the body were cut, then those in the mouth.

By the time he began working on the pectoral fin, the whale had regained enough mobility to swim away.

The entire operation took 21⁄ hours.

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