A group of tourists on a whale-watching trip off the coast of Nova Scotia got a little more than they bargained for this weekend.
The group got to witness the crew of the vessel become whale rescuers, after they witnessed a humpback whale in distress.
One of the tourists aboard the boat was Halifax resident Clara Nishida, who said that after spotting the whale, everyone noticed something was wrong.
“We saw that it was swimming kind of funny,” said Nishida.
“The boat, of course, kept following the whale to see what was happening.”
Captain Walter Flower and his shipmate saw a yellow buoy trailing behind the whale, which ended up being attached to fishing gear tangled around the 30-foot humpback.
“I was talking to Kevin, my shipmate, and I said, ‘man, we’ve got to do something here because I think we can help this thing out,'” said Flower.
So he took matters into his own hands as people on board watched the crew use a mooring hook to free the whale.
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“He did it! Like after a few tries and I was just like crying, I couldn’t even watch it. He was able to grab the fishing cord and the whale just left,” said Nishida.
Flower said it was his first humpback rescue, but it’s not the first time he’s seen the devastating impact ghost gear can have on marine life.
“It’s a huge problem right now as we know with the right whales and stuff. You know, ship strikes and gear entanglements,” he said.
“Not only whales, I found a leatherback turtle there last week, a big one, probably 7-800 pounder that was dead and it had gear marks on it, around its neck and its flippers, you know, and it’s a real shame, it’s a real problem.”
Flower said the fishing gear that was tangled into the whale will be given to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to be inspected.