Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Attempts to free an entangled humpback whale that was spotted in Doubtless Bay, Northland, yesterday continue.

Date:  29 September 2010

29 September 2010, 12.20pm

As of 12.20pm, the boats are still following the whale, which now has 5 buoys attached to it, waiting for the animal to tire.

Aerial view of the whale and the boats.
Aerial view of the whale and the boats

29 September 2010, 9.05am

  • DOC staff have just managed to hook the grapnel hook to the debris on the whale’s tail.
  • They will now follow the whale until it tires itself out before attempting to approach it to cut the whale free of the debris
  • This could take up to 2 hours

29 September 2010, 7.40am

  • A small plane was put up this morning at 7.00am, and 2 boats (1 DOC, 1 Ingrid Visser) left Taipa at 7.30am
  • At 8.15am this morning, the plane spotted the 12m humpback whale, in almost the same location as last night.
  • The two boats have now reached the whale, and will now try to attach the grapnel hook to debris wrapped around the whale’s tail.

Aerial view of the whale towing one buoy.
Aerial view of the whale towing one buoy 

  • The hook is attached to 50 metres of rope with large windy buoys hooked onto the rope. These will slow and tire the whale out making it safer for staff in boats to approach the whale to cut the debris off.
  • A curved knife on a long pole will be used to cut the debris from around the whale’s midriff and tail.
  • There is debris around the whale’s midriff, but it’s too tightly wrapped to be able to attach the hook onto it.
  • The method DOC staff are using to free the whale is called kegging. It’s adapted from an old whaling technique.
  • Mike Morrissey from the DOC Kaikoura Area Office has had experience with this method previously and says it is internationally recognised as the safest way of freeing an entangled whale.
  • The whale in question is approximately 12 metres long and could weigh up to 30 tonnes, so it’s essential DOC staff are trained and well-equipped to minimise any risks to their safety.

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Search on for entangled humpback whale - media release 28 September 2010


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