Spanish divers successfully rescued a 12-meter-long humpback whale entangled in an illegal drift net off the Balearic island of Mallorca, resulting in a heart-pounding underwater rescue.
Gigi Torras, one of the divers, expressed that this rescue was the “best birthday present ever” for her. She also felt that the magnificent creature showed a small gesture of gratitude towards her.
Speaking to Reuters, Torras described the experience as “out of this world” and “incredible.”
This sighting marked only the third recorded instance of a humpback whale in the waters around the Balearic Islands.
The marine rescue center, Palma de Mallorca Aquarium, was alerted after a ship spotted the distressed whale approximately three miles (4.83 km) off the coast of Mallorca.
Upon arrival, the rescue team found the whale completely entangled in the crimson netting, rendering it unable to open its mouth.
Initial attempts to cut the net from a boat proved unsuccessful. Consequently, divers from the Albatros and Skualo diving centers joined the operation, diving into the water for a perilous 45-minute endeavor to remove the mesh using their knives.
Torras, the owner of the Albatros diving center, said, “In the first ten seconds, she was a bit nervous, with bubbles everywhere. But then, I don’t know, call me crazy, but I think she knew we were there to help her, and she just relaxed. We started working from the front of her mouth backward.”
“We kept cutting and cutting, and she even gave a little wiggle to free herself,” Torras added.
The animal lingered with the four divers for a while to regain its strength and even seemingly offered a gesture of gratitude before swimming away.
Drift nets were banned by the United Nations three decades ago due to the significant number of marine animals inadvertently caught in addition to the intended fish catch.