REUTERS – In a gripping underwater rescue, Spanish divers freed a 12m-long humpback whale entangled in an illegal drift net off the Balearic island of Mallorca.
It is the third time a humpback has been seen around Spain’s Balearic islands.
The weakened whale was spotted by a ship about 5km off the eastern coast of Mallorca, prompting Palma de Mallorca’s Aquarium marine rescue centre into action.
After initial attempts to cut the net from a boat failed, divers joined the effort to remove the mesh with their knives in a daring 45-minute underwater operation.
“The first 10 seconds she got a bit nervous, you know, like bubbles everywhere, but then, 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 one of the divers.
“We kept cutting and cutting and she kind of gave a little wiggle to get herself out of it.”
He added that the whale then stayed for a bit in the company of the four divers and even gave what looked like “a little thank you sign” before swimming off.
Nicknamed “walls of death” for the quantity of sea life they catch in addition to the fish they are set for, drift nets were banned by the United Nations 30 years ago.
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