Sydney fisherman removes fishing line and plastic bag from whale’s mouth

Baleen whale Sydney Australia southern right whale fishing line plastic bag harbour

Ivan Iskenderian described the southern right whale as a “gentle giant”

A fisherman in Sydney got the shock of a lifetime when a distressed baleen whale swam up next to his boat.

Ivan Iskenderian, 20, was fishing with some friends in Sydney’s Middle Harbour when the gentle giant made its presence known, nudging his boat. After some close inspection, the young fishermen noticed a plastic bag and fishing line caught around the whale’s mouth. When the whale surfaced within arm’s reach, Iskenderian was able to free the whale from the bag and fishing wire:

“It was lifting its head up and it had a bit of plastic bag and some fishing line on its head,” Iskenderian told Australia’s Seven Network. “I sorta just reached out, [the whale] sorta wanted me to grab it [the plastic bag]. I just picked it up and took it off, ripped it off a bit.”

According to Iskenderian the whale, which appears to be a southern right whale, seemed happy with his aid and began playing in the water near his boat, even appearing to wave “goodbye.”

“It was just here playing around, seemed quite happy about [being freed],” Iskenderian said of the whale after his rescue effort. “It was really inquisitive … sort of taking its eye out of the water and looking at us.”

While southern right whales can be found throughout the sub-Antarctic waters of the southern hemisphere, their populations on Australia’s east coast are still extremely low, and seeing one in the waters surrounding Sydney is quite rare.

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