The 15 ton, eight metre, humpback whale had been feeding with her calf in Start Bay for the last three weeks when she became caught by her tail by a heavy line of whelk pots.
The RNLI Dart D class inshore lifeboat launched to assist and provide safety cover for divers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation. The lifeboat took two divers out to assess the situation and they found that the whale had become snared by a line of pots that was anchored to the sea bed a quarter of a mile off Blackpool Sands in Start Bay, South Devon. Cutting equipment was brought out from the beach and initially the crew and the drivers attempted to pull the line close enough to the lifeboat to cut it. When this was shown to be impractical the all weather lifeboat, Baltic Exchange III from Salcombe was asked to assist and two of their crew were put aboard the fishing boat belonging to the owner of the pots, with the divers and members of the Dart lifeboat crew. The whale was then gently guided closer by pulling on the line until it became possible for a diver to reach down from the side of the fishing boat and to cut the line. When she had been freed the whale sped off and joined her calf.
The Baltic Exchange and its members are keen supporters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and have sponsored lifeboats for 150 years. Baltic members raised over £0.5m towards the purchase of the lifeboat Baltic Exchange III at Salcombe, Devon.