Whale rescued from lobster pots
Published 22/05/2013 | 18:07
A whale has been rescued after becoming entangled in lobster pots.
The creature, believed to be a minke whale about 25 feet long, became snared in about 10 pots and rigging and rope in Tramore Bay off Co Waterford on Wednesday morning.
Tom O'Connell, crew member with the Tramore lifeboat, was alerted by local fishermen and steered the D-class inshore lifeboat while his colleague helm Dave O'Hanlon held a rope being pulled by the whale.
Mr O'Connell said: "It was like a couple of scenes from Jaws. All we were missing was someone on the back of the boat playing the cello."
The RNLI crew picked up some ropes begin dragged by the whale and allowed it to pull them for about 400m out to sea as they tried to release the creature. They tasked a large inshore fishing boat, the Sweet Waters, alongside to take up the rope and use a winch to secure the mammal and attempt to free it.
The fishermen waited for the whale to come to the surface to breath next to their boat before cutting the rope by its mouth.
The whale had dragged the ropes and pots about one mile out to sea where it appeared to be weighed down in the deeper water.
Mr O'Connell said he was worried the whale would capsize his small RNLI inshore boat as it dragged them sideways through the water and turned the boat around. The fishermen thought the ropes and rigging was around the whale's tail.
He said: "We were very cautious but we were conscious that if we let go we could not help it. It was a bit of a job handing the rope over to the other fishermen. But lo and behold, the whale came up to the surface to breath and the rope was in its mouth. It looked like a young calf whale but it was a big beast."
The whale swam out to sea after being released from the snagged pots.