Spanish divers managed to save the life of a 12-meter whale that fell into an illegal fishing net after a daring operation to free it.
Huge tea on Friday became entangled in a banned drift net off the island of Mallorca.
This is only the third time this species has been spotted in the Balearic Islands, but unrest quickly turned to concern when marine scientists realized it was in trouble.
Rescuers were warned when the stunned creature was spotted by a ship about three miles from shore.
Divers from the Palma de Mallorca Aquarium have been sent to try to isolate it from the net, a species banned because of the risk it may pose to wildlife.
The device was attached around the mouth, leaving the whale unable to eat, weakened and drifting dangerously to the beach.
One of the divers involved in the operation, marine biologist Gigi Torras, said she thought the whale gave them a “small thank you note” after releasing him.
The 32-year-old said: “It was like out of this world, it was incredible, just incredible.”
After initial attempts to cut the net from the boat failed, divers from the Albatross and Squalo diving centers joined the effort and plunged into the sea to remove the net with their knives.
Ms Thoras said: “The first ten seconds she was a little nervous, you know, like soap bubbles everywhere, but then I don’t know, call me crazy, but I think she knew we were here to help her and she just relaxed and we started working from the front of the mouth back.
“We kept cutting and cutting, and she moved a little to get out of it.”
It took 45 minutes of work to completely free the giant animal from the ropes.
She said the whale was dangling to regain strength in the company of four divers before sailing out.
Drifting nets were banned by the United Nations 30 years ago, dubbed the “walls of death” for the number of other marine life they catch in addition to the fish they are intended for.
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