| 15.4°C Belfast

Italian coast guard works to free sperm whale from fishing net

The whale had been spotted struggling in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s west coast on Saturday.

Close

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian islands, in the Mediterranean Sea (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian islands, in the Mediterranean Sea (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian islands, in the Mediterranean Sea (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

Italian coast guard divers and biologists were working on Sunday to free a sperm whale entangled in a fishing net near a tiny Mediterranean island.

Coast guard footage shows a diver slicing away some of the net in the waters surrounding the Aeolian Island archipelago.

People on boats had spotted the sperm whale struggling in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s west coast on Saturday and contacted the coast guard.

Close

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian Islands (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian Islands (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

AP/PA Images

The whale was trapped in a fishing net in the waters near the Aeolian Islands (Italian Coast Guard via AP)

The operation to free the sperm whale was particularly difficult “due to its state of agitation” which did not allow for continual intervention, the coast guard said.

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 seized illegal fishing nets totalling more than a 100km (62 miles) in length.

The coast guard says it has stepped up its efforts this year to combat illegal fishing.

PA