January 5, 2017 / 3:43 AM / a year ago

Chilean family saves whale entangled in fishing net

ANTOFAGASTA, Jan 5 (Reuters) - A Chilean family spent their traditional New Year’s sea outing rescuing a humpback whale entangled in fishing nets close to a beach in the port city of Mejillones, Chilean media reported.

Juan Menares, 52, who owns a sea tourism company, and his family were enjoying their boat trip, when they spotted the humpback whale in distress, about 500 metres (1,640 feet) from their boat.

The family took a closer look at the 10-metre (32 foot) whale after noticing it was not moving and saw that its tail fin had become entangled in a fishing net, local media reported.

Two of Menares’ children took four dives to cut the mesh off the whale -- a manoeuvre that was risky due to the size of the mammal and the weight of the rope.

Once the net was cut off the whale and lifted out of the water, the humpback shook itself free and swam back out to sea.

“That feeling after doing something good,...more than family, and for me, family is something special, fills me with joy, fills me with pride”, Menares said.

According to Carlos Guerra, director of the Regional Centre for Environmental Studies and Education at the University of Antofagasta, the size and corks attached to the net indicated that it was an industrial net used in fishing.

Guerra added that this is the second time recently that a humpback whale had been trapped in fishing nets. The last time the humpback was washed up dead south of the city of Tocopilla.

Reporting by Reuters Television, Writing by Karishma Singh

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