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Tour boat spots massive sea creature tangled in ropes — then comes complicated rescue

Off the southwestern coast of the United Kingdom, a massive sea creature struggled with ropes wrapped around its body. Help finally arrived in the form of an orange lifeboat and a pole.

Boaters spotted a humpback whale tangled in some fishing ropes when they were coming back from a wildlife-watching tour in Mount’s Bay on March 31, the tour company, Marine Discovery Penzance, wrote in a Facebook post.

“The poor whale was wound into the ropes, with two drawn tightly across its back and another wrapped round its tail stock, which had caused a nasty wound,” the company wrote.

After taking its passengers back to shore, the tour boat and several other boaters returned to try to help the whale.

Grampus Campus, a Cornwall wildlife group, shared photos of the struggling whale on Facebook. Several ropes are visible across the whale’s gray back.

A close-up photo shows the humpback whale.
A close-up photo shows the humpback whale.

The choppy seas made a rescue operation too dangerous for the group of boaters and complicated even for trained professionals, the tour company said. The only option was to wait and monitor the whale.

The hours dragged on and the group became concerned “that the whale could be in (a) collision” with a shipping boat overnight, Atlantic Adventures wrote in a Facebook post.

The humpback whale tangled in ropes off the Cornwall coast.
The humpback whale tangled in ropes off the Cornwall coast.

Finally, a trained rescue team arrived from across the bay.

A wildlife photographer visiting Cornwall for the weekend filmed the rescue and shared the video on Facebook. (Warning: Video contains language that some viewers might find offensive.)

The video shows the orange lifeboat approach the whale. Someone onboard leans over the side with a pole-shaped tool. A moment later, the whale splashes the boat and moves away.

The rescuers had managed to cut away the ropes and free the humpback whale.

The humpback whale tangled in ropes off the Cornwall coast.
The humpback whale tangled in ropes off the Cornwall coast.

“It’s incredible what the guy at (the) helm achieved because it was properly rough,” Hannah Wilson with Marine Discovery Penzance told Sky News, a U.K. news outlet.

The lifeboat followed the whale for a short time to make sure it was fully freed, the tour company said.

The humpback whale was later identified as Ivy, who “has been in the area for a while,” Penlee Lifeboat wrote in a Facebook post.

“This is one of those proud moments, when every one comes together for the greater good,” Grampus Campus said.

“This whale was lucky but there will be plenty that won’t be,” Wilson told McClatchy News, expressing concern about how environmental conditions are influencing whale migration and increasing their risk of harm.

Mount’s Bay is off the southwestern coast of Cornwall and about 300 miles west of London.

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