Italian coast guard works to free sperm whale from fish net

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In this image taken from an Italian coast guard video a whale trapped in a fishnet in the waters near the Eolian islands, in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian coast guard divers were working Sunday to free a sperm whale which was entangled in a fishing net near a tiny Mediterranean island. In a coast guard video, a diver can be seen slicing away some of the net in the waters surrounding the Aeolian Island archipelago. The operation to set the sperm whale free was made particularly difficult “due to its state of agitation” that doesn’t allow continual intervention near the creature, the coast guard said in a statement. (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

ROME (AP) — Italian coast guard divers and biologists were working Sunday to free a sperm whale that was entangled in a fishing net near a tiny Mediterranean island.

In a coast guard video, a diver can be seen slicing away some of the net in the waters surrounding the Aeolian Island archipelago. Boaters on Saturday had spotted the struggling sperm whale in that stretch of the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s west coast and contacted the coast guard.

The operation to free the sperm whale was particularly difficult “due to its state of agitation” that didn’t allow for continual intervention near the whale, the coast guard said Sunday.

Three weeks ago, the Italian coast guard freed another sperm whale ensnared in a fishing net, also in the sea off the Aeolian Islands.

Since the start of the year, the coast guard has sequestered illegal fishing nets totaling more than a 100 kilometers (62 miles) in length.. The coast guard says it has stepped up its efforts this year to combat illegal fishing.

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