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Sunday 19 January 2020

Lifeboat rescues whale trapped in lobster pots

Crew on fishing boat Luch na Farraige work to free a whale caught up in its lobster pots in Tramore bay yesterday
Crew on fishing boat Luch na Farraige work to free a whale caught up in its lobster pots in Tramore bay yesterday

Treacy Hogan

A FULL-SCALE emergency operation swung into action after a whale got trapped in lobster pots on the seabed off Tramore, Co Waterford.

Tramore's RNLI lifeboat was launched after a fishing vessel contacted the Coast Guard Marine Rescue in Dublin about the incident.

The fishing vessel Luch na Farraige reported a 20-foot mammal, believed to be a Minke whale weighing as much as 14 tonnes, trapped in their lobster pots on the sea bed, one mile off the Metal Man in Tramore Bay yesterday.

When the lifeboat arrived on the scene, they had to wait for the creature to attempt to surface. The rope holding some lobster pots together was snagged in the mammal's mouth, and it was turning around in the water repeatedly, trying to free itself.

The lifeboat worked alongside the inshore fishing vessel, which had an onboard winch, to try and cut the rope free from the mammal's mouth.

The mammal was hoisted on to the winch of the inshore fishing vessel and the rope was cut free.

The lobster pots where then hauled onboard and the mammal was freed and swam away.

Tramore RNLI crew member Tom McConnell said: "This was a huge creature. We had to be extremely cautious and work carefully with the other vessel to free it.

"We felt that one wrong move and we could be flipped over in our inshore lifeboat. We had asked our colleagues in Dunmore East RNLI to be on standby with their all-weather lifeboat but, thankfully, the whale was freed and able to return to deeper waters."

Irish Independent

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