Video

Watch A Free-Diver Rescue This Entangled Whale Shark

Monday, 13 August

A Hawaiian family spotted this whale shark while free-diving off the coast of Lanai. First, they were excited about the rare sighting of the 20-foot-long endangered shark. But then, they noticed a heavy rope tightly wrapped around its neck. Biologists Kapua Kawelo and Joby Rohrer decided to help the animal, while their son, 17-year-old Kanehoalani, filmed the rescue.

Rohrer free-dove to depths of 30 to 60 feet, holding his breath for long periods of time, and attempted to cut through the rope using a four-inch-long dive knife. The shark remained in place, and appeared to calmly allow the 45-minute rescue attempt. After five dives, Rohrer cut through the rope, and the shark was freed. Shark expert Brad Norman says the shark has a good chance of surviving.

The family’s daughter, 15-year-old Ho’ohila, swam the 150-pound rope to shore. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources warns that disentangling large marine mammals is dangerous, and should only be done by trained individuals. Joby Rohrer, Kanehoalani Kawelo, and Ho’ohilaKawelo are shown here with the rope.