Underwater rescue: Spanish divers free whales trapped in illegal fishing nets

In a fascinating underwater rescue, Spanish divers freed a 12-meter-long humpback whale entangled in an illegal drifting net off the Balearic Islands of Mallorca.

One of the divers, 32-year-old marine biologist Gigi Torras, said last Friday’s rescue and a little gesture of gratitude from the giant mammal were also her birthday present – “best ever” in her words.

“It’s like being out of this world, it’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable,” she told Reuters on Tuesday. This is only the third time a humpback has been seen around the Balearic Islands.

The weakened whale was spotted by a ship about 5 kilometers off the east coast of Mallorca, prompting the Palma de Mallorca’s Aquarium of the Sea to step in.

They discovered the whale was completely trapped in the red fishing net so it couldn’t even open its mouth.

VIEW | The diver describes being in the water next to the whale, working to free her:

‘It’s like stepping into a completely different space’

Marine biologist and diver Gigi Torras describes what it’s like to be in the water, next to a trapped humpback whale, and with colleagues to cut through the animals’ tangled fishing nets. this 12-meter-long mammal.

After initial attempts to cut the net off a boat were unsuccessful, divers from the Albatros and Skualo dive centers joined the effort and plunged into the sea to remove the net with their knives in a daring operation. lasted 45 minutes.

“The first ten seconds she was a little nervous, you know, like bubbles everywhere, but then I don’t know, call me crazy, but I think she knows we’re there to help her and She just relaxes and we start working. The front of its mouth goes backwards,” said Torras, owner of Albatros.

“We kept cutting and cutting and she wiggled a little to get out of it,” said Torras, adding that the mammal then stayed a bit to regain her strength in the company of four. divers and even give launches. like “a little thank you” before swimming.

A stranded humpback whale and divers were seen in the waters off Mallorca, for 45 minutes trying to cut fishing nets away from the mammal. (NGO Xaloc / Hector Gago / Reuters)

Drift nets are nicknamed the “wall of death” because of the amount of other marine life they catch in addition to the fish they are set up to catch. They were banned by the United Nations 30 years ago.

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