Video Shows Italian Divers Free Sperm Whale Caught Up in Illegal Net

A sperm whale that had become caught up in an enormous fishing net off the Aeolian Islands near Italy got a much-needed assist from some divers who were in the area.

According to a post from the Lipari Coast Guard, authorities were alerted to the sperm whale's condition when a group of biologists who were working at a nearby turtle recovery center, spotted the whale off shore. The Lipari Coast Guard sent a team of divers to investigate where they found the sea creature caught up in what's described as an illegal net.

Video of the incident shows the illegal fishing net wrapped around the whale's tale, making it impossible for the whale to swim away freely.

The divers worked to snip away the net with knives and other cutting tools while cameras recorded the scene. According to the Lipari Coast Guard, the divers working for about an hour under about six feet of water until the net was completely removed from the animal's tail.

Once the whale was freed, it can be seen swimming away calmly to a pod of three other whales in the area. Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales, with males averaging 52 feet in length, with some getting even larger (68 ft). Sperm whales are also known to have the largest brain on Earth, weighing in as much as five times heavier than an average human brain. Sperm whales are also incredibly long-lived, with the average whale that reaches maturing living to around 72 years old.

Authorities were able to later track down the owner of the illegal net and intercepted the suspect about 12 miles south of Alicudi. The master of the fishing boat was reportedly fined several thousand euros and the illegal net was seized.

Photo: Lipari Coast Guard

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