The crew move to cut the fishing ropes from the humpback in Cockburn Sound.

Two deckhands hung from the side of a tugboat to save a dying humpback whale they found trapped in fishing rope in Cockburn Sound yesterday.

Henry Duckett and Nick Nielsen, who work for harbour services company Total AMS, were aboard the Sacramento on their way back from moving barges at the Australian Marine Complex when they took a call from Fremantle Ports telling them about the struggling whale between Carnac Island and Woodman Point.

When the crew found the 8m whale just before 2pm, it had rope wrapped tightly around its body and tail and was floating upside down and was unable to move.

Tugboat crew rescue trapped humpback

Henry Duckett calls for help.

The men were able to use a boat hook to pull the rope up and used a knife to cut the rope three times, freeing the whale and causing a fishing pot, which they believed was possibly an octopus pot, to fall away.

Mr Duckett said they thought the whale was dead, but it soon spouted water out of its blowhole and kicked, so they decided to help.

He said he and Mr Nielsen, of Subiaco and Scarborough, worked together to cut the rope off the animal as they hung up to a metre from the side of the tugboat.

The boat’s skipper, Frank Forrest, steadied the boat as the pair tried to free the whale.

“When we went up to it, it looked really tired and as though it was about to die . . . it was definitely really tangled up,” Mr Duckett said.

“But when the rope fell off, it swam away and it looked like it was going to be all right. It was really satisfying to get such a good result.”

Fremantle Ports harbourmaster Allan Gray said the initial report received by the port told them the whale was floating belly up and possibly dead.

“The crew of the Sacramento was in the area and went to investigate, finding the distressed creature drowning within its rope entanglement,” Capt. Gray said.

“The rescue was skilful and just in time to save the whale’s life.”

Source: The West Australian

Bloody well done to the crew of the Sacramento! So often these situations end poorly for the whale so high-fives all round to those chaps!

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