Divers use knife to free entangled whale shark off Lanai


An entangled whale shark is now free thanks to a group of free divers.

We first told you last month that the juvenile animal was spotted off Maui, caught in heavy rope.

Freeing it was difficult because whale sharks are actually sharks, and don’t surface like whales do. That is, until this weekend, when a group of free divers spotted the whale shark off Lanai.

After about five dives and an hour and a half later, one of the divers was finally able to cut the rope free using nothing but a dive knife.

“It’s one thing to get down to 40 feet on a breath of air. It’s another thing to get down to 40 feet, jump on a 20-foot whale shark, and start sawing with a knife like it’s your job,” said diver Jon Sprague. 

The rope is estimated to be between 150 to 200 pounds, and about 20 feet long.

“Honestly, I think I can speak for all of us and say we count ourselves lucky we were able to help. It was magical. Obviously, it was one in a lifetime. The only message I would share to the wider community is the things we leave in the ocean have impacts, and this is clearly an example of that,” Sprague said.

Despite the happy ending, officials warn the public not try to disentangle whales or other marine mammals on their own.

The divers involved in this rescue included an Army biologist and a wildlife control manager.

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