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'Nettie' the entangled
Humpback whale


On 31 July of 2015 we spotted a badly entangled Humpback whale on one of our tours in Faxafló bay. The local whale watching companies and IceWhale joined hands and started thinking of a plan so we could help the whale that seemed to be in a lot of pain. It was in really bad shape, especially around the tail which made us very concerned.

Rescuing any wild animal can be a dangerous job and we knew this would not be an easy task. As the sea conditions were quite rough in the days following we had some time to come up with a strategy since we needed very calm conditions to be able to do anything. We tried to release it on our own, but without the proper knowledge on site our efforts were unsuccessful. We then contacted International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW US) and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) for assistance and both were on the case within hours.

Now that we had the expertise we needed we knew we would soon be ale to free the poor animal. The whale was first attached with buoys to slow the animal down and exhaust it, so we could get closer. Then with the right tools and timing we were able to cut the micro-filament gillnet that was caught in the mouth and tightly wound around the tail. Thankfully, bit by bit it came off.


Overnight the whale was attached with a satellite transmitter so that we could find it at ease the following day. The next morning at around 6am we were off for round two and found the whale about 18km from where we left it the night before. It still had a bit of net attached to it but this will hopefully fall of in time. After the net was cut the whale seemed in good spirits and raised it´s tail nice and high showing us that´s it was indeed fine. An intense but educational and inspiring experience for all of us.


Almost exactly two weeks after spotting Nettie for the first time and approximately two days after the members of IFAW US and BDMLR came to Iceland we had set Nettie free. What a relief! The well experienced rescue team provided much needed and appreciated advice for future entanglements.

Several weeks after Netties rescue, she was seen again in Faxaflói bay. There was still line trailing from the mouth along the back but this should free in time. The tail stock is completely line free and healing well. The behaviour is also much improved with longer, smoother dives. Hopefully Nettie can shed the rope from the mouth but at least it's not causing any tension and cutting into the tail stock any longer. 

Check out the report on Nettie by the BDMLR:

Nettie the Entangled Humpback Whale

Nettie the Entangled Humpback Whale

Net wound around Netties fluke
The crew
Cutting the ropes
Trying to exhaust Nettie
Focused team
Trying to get to Nettie
Estimating injuries
Quite severe injuries on the fluke
Discussing rescue plans
Searching for Nettie
Rope around Nettie's mouth and body
Getting closer
Net around the body
Nettie's fluke rope
Tied up
Setting her free
Happy Whale
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