A group of fishermen have captured extraordinary footage of the moment they helped free a whale from entangled rubbish after it seemed to seek out their help.
Michael Riggio, 17, and Ivan Iskenderian told the local Manly Daily newspaper they were sailing home from a fishing trip when they noticed the animal, thought to be a southern right whale, near Sydney, Australia.
The fishermen said the whale, which appeared some way up Middle Harbour just north of the New South Wales city, appeared to be looking for them to do something.
While Mr Riggio took photographs, Mr Iskanderian was able to reach out to the whale and remove a large mass of fishing lines and plastic that had got caught on the animal’s face.
“It was right on his lip… he seemed like he wanted it off,” Mr Iskenderian said.
Another man out on his boat in the same stretch of water, Ron Kovacs, was able to take a video of the moment the rubbish came free.
He posted it to Facebook, and explained that the whale had spent some time taking an unusual amount of interest in a group of boats.
“He had a big scar on his back, and some fishing line and two plastic bags on his head,” Mr Kovacs said.
“He [kept] popping his head up so you could reach out and remove the garbage. He tried on my boat bit [it was] a bit harder as we are a bit higher – I made one grab for the bag but missed.
“He later came up to a trailer boat and presented his head as they removed the bag and [then] the fishing line. It was as if he wanted them to take it off.”
Mr Riggio, who posted a selfie of the experience on Instagram, said it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, just seeing it so close”.
The fishermen said that after the rubbish was removed, the whale seemed to show its appreciation by slapping its fin on the water. Mr Iskenderian said: “It was surreal, we couldn’t believe our eyes.”
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