Amid that thrashing, panicked mess of netting and blood, officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada had to cut four ropes. But they had to do it just right - cutting the wrong one first could have easily sent the whale into a death spiral.
"We needed to know how the gear was wrapped through the whale's mouth and around its body," Paul Cottrell, marine mammal coordinator at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told Global News. "If we made the wrong cut, we may have freed the animal but it would still have gear on it. It was definitely a lethal situation."