Sperm Whale Rescued from Net in Guangdong

By Chris Webster, March 14, 2017

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Fishermen and divers rescued a 12-meter-long whale over the weekend after it got entangled in fishing nets in the Dapeng Sea. 

Experts say the three-ton cetacean was a sperm whale, which is currently listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Commercial whaling used to be the greatest threat to sperm whale populations, but today they are most at risk of getting trapped in fishing gear, like gillnets.

Luckily for this particular leviathan, an on-duty officer with the Dapeng Fishery Administrative Department reportedly discovered the whale stranded in the sea near the Daya Bay nuclear power plant. 

Due to strong winds, big waves and poor visibility, officers recruited the help of local fishermen and a group of divers to assist in rescuing the whale.


Their rescue efforts lasted about three hours, as nets around the whale’s body had to be cut and detangled. One diver even had to reach inside the whale’s mouth to remove some netting. 

After the whale was freed, the Dapeng officers and a group of whale experts from Sun Yat-sen University and Guangdong Ocean University spent the day trying to lead the mammal back to deep water by using sonar devices.

Sperm whales, or physeter macrocephalus, emit a series of 'clangs' for echolocation, whereby the sounds they produce travel underwater until they encounter objects. These sounds are then bounced back to the sender, which reveals the location, size and shape of their target. 

Despite the guiding efforts of experts, however, this whale was intent on lingering in shallow waters and returned to Daya Bay yesterday. They speculate that something must be wrong with the whale’s sonar system – or, in layman’s terms, the whale is hard of hearing.


Dapeng fishery authorities have been working with their Huizhou counterparts to help ensure the whale does not return to shallower waters. Along with experts from Sun Yat-sen University and Guangdong Ocean University, as well as other academic institutions, the Border Detachment of Shenzhen's Public Security Bureau has also lent resources to the completion of the rescue effort.

READ MORE: Baby Porpoise Found Dead on Guangdong Beach

[Images via Shenzhen Evening NewsDaily Mail]

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