Over the weekend, divers with the Italian coast guard worked to free a sperm whale from a fishing net off the Aeolian Islands – the second whale entanglement in the region this month.
The whale was reported by good samaritans on Saturday, and local coast guard units and biologists responded to the scene. They monitored the whale overnight to ensure that it did not escape prematurely.
The work to remove the net continued into Sunday. The effort to cut this particular whale free has been particularly challenging for divers, the agency reported, because of its sheer size and its state of agitation.
Since the beginning of the year, the Italian coast guard has focusted intently on illegal fishing, especially in specific areas where it is most active and pronounced. Since January, the agency has conducted 30 patrols and seized more than 100 kilometers of illegal netting – much like the nets entangling this whale. They have also recovered abandoned ghost nets from the water.
A previous whale rescue effort off the island of Salina ended in success. On the morning of June 26, the Coast Guard station in Lipari received a report from a group of biologists who said that they had spotted a whale in distress. The 30-foot-long whale had fishing net wrapped completely around its tail. The Lipari Coast Guard dispatched a patrol boat to the area with a team of local divers, who spent about one hour cutting the net free from the whale’s tail fin. Their efforts were successful, and the whale swam off to rejoin a group of three others which had been waiting at a distance.
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