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Humpback whale freed from illegal net in Mexico

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Feb. 25, 2016 at 10:06 AM

SEATTLE, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A marine wildlife conservation group shared video of a boat crew rescuing a humpback whale from an illegal gillnet in Mexico's Gulf of California.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said one of its ships, the R/V Martin Sheen, spotted the humpback whale tangled in the net Feb. 19 and alerted the group's other boat, the M/V Farley Mowat.

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The 35-foot-long whale was tangled in a gillnet, a net used to catch totoaba fish. The Mexican government banned the nets in April of last year due to their danger to the totoaba and the vaquita porpoises, which are both endangered species.

The crews of both boats, which have been in the area since receiving permission to remove illegal gillnets in December, worked to free the whale by cutting through the net.

The group posted video of the rescue to YouTube.

"This is true conservation in action," said Les Stroud, star of TV's Survivorman and a recent addition to the M/V Farley Mowat's crew. "Today, we were able to save the whale and remove another illegal gillnet.  It is an honor to be a crew member with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Cutting that net and freeing the whale was a life changing experience."

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