A 38-year-old man is missing, assumed dead after being knocked unconscious by a humpback whale that he was trying to free from crayfish pot lines at Kaikoura, New Zealand.
The whale’s plight was first reported by a Whale-Watching tour boat whose 30 passengers witnessed the tragedy. The diver, Tom Smith, is believed to have been struck by the whale’s tale as he attempted to cut it free from ropes attached to a crayfish pot just below the surface some 300m from shore. Rough weather has hampered the search for the diver’s body and further attempts to free the entangled whale. Unless freed quickly, the whale is likely to perish as it will lose the strength to keep surfacing and breathing.
Tom Smith had on two previous occasions succesfully freed whales caught up in ropes.