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Rarely seen whale rescued after getting stuck off Cornwall

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Lifeboat volunteers managed to rescue a rarely seen whale off the coast of Cornwall after it became stuck in lines of lobster traps.

The humpback whale was spotted on Sunday morning during the Marine Discovery Penzance wildlife tour, at Mount’s Bay, near Newlyn Harbour.

Faced with rough waters, the tour operator’s staff decided to drop off their passengers, before returning to take care of the whale.

However, experts advised them not to attempt to rescue them, due to the risk to their own safety.

Hannah Wilson, co-owner of the business, said they felt “helpless” with the whale “silent and still” in the water.

However, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), who had a team in the area, later managed to free the whale from the ropes.

“It’s amazing what the guy at the controls achieved because it was really difficult,” Ms Wilson said.

“At that point there was a short, steep chop, poor visibility, the whale started moving at that point.

“What he did was very impressive. They cut the crucial rope and the whale moved away, and that was it.”

According to the travel agency, the whale moved away slowly, followed by the lifeboat crew, and appeared to be swimming “well”, despite a “nasty” injury to its tail.

Undated photo of a humpback whale, which was caught in a fishing rope off the coast of Cornwall, before being freed by volunteers in a lifeboat.  Publication date: Monday April 1, 2024.
Picture:
Photo: PA/Marine Discovery Penzance

Undated photo of a humpback whale, which was caught in a fishing rope off the coast of Cornwall, before being freed by volunteers in a lifeboat.  Publication date: Monday April 1, 2024.
Picture:
Photo: PA/Marine Discovery Penzance

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The animal has been identified as Ivy, a humpback whale seen around the Porthleven coast over the past four months.

Sightings of humpback whales are rare on British coasts. They are mainly seen off the Shetland Islands and the Hebrides, but increasingly in the northern North Sea.

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They come to cooler waters to feast on fish and krill before heading to tropical seas to give birth. They are therefore sometimes seen off the western coasts of the United Kingdom as part of their migration.

According to The Wildlife Trusts, if you spot a humpback whale at sea, you should maintain a distance of at least 100m.

“If the whale approaches you, maintain a constant speed and let it interact on its own terms and leave at will,” according to the organization.

“If you find a stranded whale (dead or alive), please report it to the appropriate authorities.”

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