A team of divers who rescued a whale from a crab trap say the whale thanked them for setting it free (video below).
A 45 to 50-foot female humpback whale got trapped in a crab trap net near the Farallon Islands in San Francisco, California. The whale, weighing an estimated 50 tons, was migrating along the California coast when it became entangled in nylon ropes from a crab trap.
Early one morning, a group of crab fishermen spotted the whale in the water roughly 18 miles off the coast of San Francisco, according to the SF Gate.
The fishermen called Mick Menigoz, an organizer of whale watching and diving expeditions, who quickly put together a team of divers to rescue the whale.
Early that afternoon, the team arrived and evaluated the situation. They knew the only way they would be able to set the humpback free was to dive into the water and cut the ropes.
Shelbi Stoudt, the stranding manager for the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, says getting that close to the whale is risky, as the flip of a humpback whale’s tail could kill somebody.
“I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it,” diver James Moskito told the SF Gate. “I really didn’t think we were going to be able to save it.”
The divers cut the ropes and, finally, after about an hour of cutting ropes, the whale was set free. What happened next surprised everybody on the team of rescuers.
Moskito says that once the whale was set free, it began swimming in circles, going up to each diver who helped her, nuzzling them before moving on to the next rescuer.
“It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you,” Moskito said. “I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.”
Sources: SF Gate, White Shark Video/YouTube / Photo Credit: White Shark Video/YouTube