Heroic Rescue of a Humpback Whale That Got Entangled in Illegal Driftnet Off Spanish Coast

Gigi Torras, a marine biologist and owner of the Albatros Dive Center, was among those responders who rushed to the Balearic Islands in eastern Spain to rescue a humpback whale.

The 12-meter-long whale was spotted by a ship three miles off the east coast of Mallorca, where it appeared to be seriously entangled in a red fishing net.

Photo: YouTube/NBC News

A team from Palma de Mallorca’s Aquarium had tried to free it by cutting the net from a boat. However, their attempt failed since there was a need to get really close to the giant marine creature that could not even open its mouth due to the driftnet that was wrapped around its entire body.

And so, divers from the Albatros and Skualo dive centers were summoned to save the whale, which was already weakening.

The divers quickly went to work since time was of the essence. But the distressed whale was very nervous during the first several seconds.

Photo: YouTube/NBC News

“The first ten seconds she got a bit nervous, you know, like bubbles everywhere, but then, I don’t know, call me crazy, but I think she knew we were there to help her, and she just relaxed, and we started working from the front of her mouth backwards,” said Torras.

For forty-five minutes, the divers focused on their efforts to free the whale.

“We kept cutting and cutting, and she kind of gave a little wiggle to get herself out of it,” continued Torras, who further added how four divers stayed for a while longer until the whale was able to regain its strength.

Photo: YouTube/NBC News

And they were surprised that the whale even seemed to make a gesture of thanks before swimming off.

According to Torras, that was the greatest present she had received, since she was also celebrating her birthday at the time of the emergency.

Meantime, while the residents of the Balearic Islands are happy that their place has been visited again by a whale, there is a serious concern about the driftnet that caused its entanglement. The United Nations already banned the use of driftnets thirty years ago since this type of netting fishing gear harm a lot of marine life.

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