Whale of a fight: Trapped whale freed in Arctic Norway

July 2, 2022 - 12:23 PM
A whale entangled in ropes and a buoy is pictured, in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea, Norway, June 29, 2022. (Norwegian Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters)

 Norwegian coastguards rescued a whale entangled in ropes off the coast of northern Europe before the animal swam away to freedom, flipping its tail, footage showed.

The mammal was floating listlessly on the surface of the Barents Sea on Wednesday, its tail trapped in ropes and a buoy, when the KV Bison coastguard ship approached it after receiving a tip from the crew of the local ferry company.

“We could see the whale was exhausted, it was completely still,” said Lieutenant Captain Raymond Isehaug, speaking on Friday by phone from on board the KV Bison.

Isehaug sent a four-man crew in a light boat to help the animal.

“We approached it very slowly so as not to stress it … It was scared and was behaving aggressively,” said Isehaug, who said he believed the animal was a humpback whale.

The footage, posted on the coastguard’s Twitter account, shows a crew member reaching down from the light boat with a knife towards the whale. He can be heard on the video saying in Norwegian: “Are you holding my feet?”

“I initially thought about sending some divers to cut the rope that was underneath the whale but I thought against it given the whale’s behavior,” said Isehaug.

It took some 10 to 15 minutes for the coastguards to disentangle most of the ropes from around the whale, which were tied to a buoy from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, Isehaug said.

The whale then dived and flipped its tail, splashing and spraying water before swimming away.

“We were happy for the whale,” Isehaug said. “It was a good deed.”

—Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Alex Richardson