- Some years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle had a front page article about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.
She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of rope wrapped around her body, her tail and her torso, as well as a line tugging on her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands, which are 27 miles out to sea from San Francisco. So he radioed an environmental group to get help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so severely entangled that the only way to save her was to dive into the water and cut her loose. That’s a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
The divers worked for hours with their curved knives and were eventually able to free her. At that moment, the divers say she swam in what seemed to be joyous circles. She then came back to every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, gently pushing them around to thank them. Some of them said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The man who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he said that he would never be the same.