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Subj:.....Divers Rescue Entangled Whale (S633c) 
          From: darrellvip on 2/21/2009

Source1: http://www.snopes.com/critters/
.........crusader/whalethanks.asp


 
 

Source2: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
.........f=/c/a/2005/12/14/HUMPY.TMP
Movie source: http://www.ktvu.com/news/5525793/detail.html
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Daring rescue of whale off Farallones
     By Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
 And by KTVU Channel 2 News
     on Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It almost reads like a Disney movie script.  A 50-ton female whale becomes entrapped in crab trap lines off the Northern California
coast and will die unless she breaks loose.  A fisherman sees the
life and death struggle, calls in rescue divers and the whale is
freed.
 
The story began when Ryan Tom, a crab fisherman out of the East Bay port of Emeryville, saw the struggling whale
off the Farallon Islands early Sunday
and sent out a call for help that was
answered by a Marin charter boat
captain and ultimately the Marin Marine
Mammal Center.
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"It was just laying there on the surface, all lethargic," Tom told
the Marin Independent Journal. "I didn't even notice it was caught until we got up close and you could see all the buoys wrapped around its head."

At the request of Shelbi Stoudt, stranding manager for the Marine Mammal Center, Superfish skipper Mick Menigoz picked up six U.S.
Coast Guard master divers and three Center members at the Coast 
Guard station off Horse Shoe Cove at 12:30 p.m.

The rescue effort was underway.

By 2:30 p.m., the rescuers had reached the whale and evaluated
the situation.  Team members realized the only way to save the endangered leviathan was to dive into the water and cut the ropes. 
 
"It was a very risky maneuver," said Stoudt "because the mere flip of a humpback's massive tail can kill a man." 

"I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it," said Moskito, a 40-year-old Pleasanton resident who works with "Great White Adventures,"

a cage-diving outfit that contracts with Menigoz. "I really didn't think we were going to be able to save it."

Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth. 

The crab pot lines were cinched so tight, Moskito said, that the rope 
was digging into the animal's blubber and leaving visible cuts.
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At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to 
keep its blow- hole out of the water. 

Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration. 

"When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was
there winking at me, watching me," Moskito said.  "It was an epic
moment of my life." 

When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers.  Moskito said it swam to each
diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one. 

"It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that's happy to see
you," Moskito said.  "I never felt threatened.  It was an amazing, unbelievable experience."
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Click 'HERE' to see a KTVU Channel 2
news video about the rescue.
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