Whale watching tour disentangles humpback off Nova Scotia

‘They get stuff wrapped around them, it’s like one of us in a straitjacket’

Kevin Dares, a first mate with Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours, fastened line to a grappling hook and used it to snag gear attached to a humpback whale. (Lunenburg Whale & Seabird Tours/Facebook)

Flower called for help and reached the Marine Animal Response Society, which in turn contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“They were going to see if they could scramble a boat or some people to come out and help this thing out,” he said.

But Flower was worried there was only a few hours of daylight left and he didn’t think help would arrive before dusk.

He said the waters were calm so he brought the boat alongside the whale, which he estimates was about nine metres long.

Some of the 42 passengers helped pull the tangle of gear that had been attached to the whale onto the boat. (Submitted by Walter Flower)

Flower and his first mate, Kevin Dares, scoured the boat for something to hook onto the buoy. They ended up fastening a line to the boat’s bow and tossed a mooring hook into the water to try to snag the clump attached to the whale. On the 10th try, it worked.

“The whale was swimming ahead at a couple of knots. It was calm, but you’re always get moving around a little bit the boat and just try to get the throw perfect, you know. And then Kevin nailed it. It was fish on,” Flower said.

“We kind of pulled its head around, it turned towards us on the surface, and then I gave a little more throttle back. And then we started pulling it, dragging it a little bit and the line just came out of its mouth, and a whole big clump of stuff came out to a lot of cheers from our passengers in the boat. It was a happy ending.”

Walter Flower said his boat was south of Cross Island when it came upon the humpback whale tangled in gear. (Submitted by Walter Flower)

The rescue was all over in about 20 minutes. The passengers helped pull the fishing gear onto the boat.

Flower said the humpback swam off much happier once it was freed.

“It just kind of made a little splash kick with his tail and just headed due south,” he said.