Fisherman killed by whale he rescued from fishing net

Kindhearted man killed in tragic accident


A Canadian man has been killed while rescuing a whale stuck in a fishing net.

Joe Howlett, pictured above right with his son Tyler, succeeded in freeing the whale, but was fatally struck by the animal when it flipped moments later.

See also: Rescuers untangle blue whale from fishing ropes in California

See also: Fishermen surprised by magnificent whale shark

A lobster fisherman by trade, Mr Howlett was the founder of a whale rescue group on Campobello Island, and had saved over two dozen whales in the last 15 years.

Fisherman killed by whale he rescued from fishing net

According to the BBC, Mackie Green, a friend of Mr Howlett who had founded the Campobello Whale Rescue Team with him, said: "They got the whale totally disentangled and then some kind of freak thing happened and the whale made a big flip.

"Joe definitely would not want us to stop because of this.

"This is something he loved and there's no better feeling than getting a whale untangled, and I know how good he was feeling after cutting that whale clear."

The mayor of Campbello Island, Stephen Smart, also paid his respects to Joe. He told CBC News: "There's only 850 people here on Campobello Island now and Joe was a very lively character, he had a great sense of humour. Everybody knew Joe Howlett and everybody respected Joe Howlett. It's a big blow."

He added: "I'm sure for him, I'm sure it was just another day at work ... he was a very brave man, a very good man and was doing something he believed in.

"If there's any silver lining, he was helping, right? It's a very, very steep price to pay."

The whale that Joe saved was a North Atlantic right whale, which can grow up to 50ft and weigh 70 tonnes. There are only 500 left alive and the species is "critically endangered".

According to the Metro, the federal fisheries department confirmed that Joe had been killed while on one of its boats. A spokesman said: "Taking part in whale rescue operations requires immense bravery and a passion for the welfare of marine mammals.

"There are serious risks involved with any disentanglement attempt. Each situation is unique, and entangled whales can be unpredictable."

Sharks and more: Amazing pics of ocean life

Sharks and more: Amazing pics of ocean life