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Whale calf left with no tail after getting trapped in abandoned fishing net

Warning: graphic content

This is the shocking moment a young whale is caught on camera swimming in the sea without a tail. The humpback whale calf appeared to be moving normally through the water but when it dived it revealed a horrific ragged wound where its tail should have been.

It is believed the whale, which was seen in the Pacific Ocean off the western Colombian town of Nuqui, lost its tail after becoming tangled up in an abandoned fishing net. Experts say the most likely cause would be a fishing net becoming so tightly wrapped around the whale that circulation had been cut off and it had eventually lost its tail. It was filmed by members of the Macuaticos Foundation, a marine conservation organisation, which fears that the whale will not survive for long.

Biologist Cristian Bermudez said: ‘The whale will probably not survive because the tail is essential for travelling around the sea and it is fundamental for deep dives.’ And foundation director Natalia Botero added: ‘We searched for her for a week and when we found her we saw huge coffee-coloured injuries that looked gangrenous.’ Ms Botero said the foundation was working with local villagers to try to persuade them to change fishing practices which threatened marine wildlife. 

‘Those people have been fishing in this way their whole life and it is the way they survive, so we should find alternatives for them,’ she added. The incident also prompted the Marine Program of the International Preservation of Colombia to urge fishermen not to abandon fishing nets in the sea. 

Director Maria Clara Diaz Granado said: ‘It is terrible to see how big mammals are suffering for our fishing activities that are not properly controlled.’

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) swim past Colombia each year on their annual migration to their breeding grounds in the south-eastern Pacific Ocean.


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