Highlands & Islands

Whale rescued from creel fishing gear near Durness

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Media captionMembers of British Divers Marine Life Rescue work to disentangle the whale

Rescuers have freed a 40ft (12m) humpback whale after it became entangled in prawn fishing gear.

A fisherman raised the alarm on Friday after spotting the animal caught in creels anchored in Loch Eriboll.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was offered boats by a nearby fish farm in its effort to free the whale from the ropes on Saturday.

At one point, rescuers used one of the ropes like a horses bridle to control the whale and save it from harm.

Image copyright Laura Shirra BDMLR
Image caption The rescuers were given the use of a local fish farm's boats
Image copyright Laura Shirra BDMLR
Image caption BDMLR members from all over Scotland were involved in the rescue effort
Image copyright Laura Shirra BDMLR
Image caption The humpback measured 40ft in length
Image copyright Noel Hawkins BDMLR
Image caption Freeing whale involved trying to cut and unravel ropes from its body
Image copyright Noel Hawkins BDMLR
Image caption A pole was among the pieces of kit BDMLR used to dislodge the ropes
Image copyright Noel Hawkins BDMLR
Image caption The whale's head rises to the surface during the rescue operation

Humpbacks are a large species of whales known for launching themselves above the sea's surface in behaviour called breaching.

During the rescue operation near Durness in Sutherland, the entangled whale breached in front of the BDMLR team.

Using a small inflatable boat, the rescuers were eventually able to cut and pull the ropes off the whale's body. It then swam free of the fishing gear.

The BDMLR team was drawn from all over Scotland.

It included Ali Jack from Wick, Noel Hawkins of Ullapool, Brian Corbett from Dundee, David Scott and Anna Oliver from Glasgow, Cath Bain of Nairn and observers Donald Mitchell from Durness and Laura Shirra from Ullapool.

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