The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Spyderco Tool Used in Ongoing Effort to Free Blue Whale


Whale entanglements are on the rise. In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 61 incidents of whale entanglements along the West Coast. That’s the most since the NOAA started keeping records in 1982.

On Monday, an 80-foot blue whale entangled in crab traps and lines attached to buoys was spotted off the coast of Orange County. Blue whales are endangered after being hunted mercilessly by whalers for decades, so it’s a shame for the whale to be stuck.

That’s where Spyderco comes into the picture.

Here’s an excerpt from the Washington Post about the rescue attempt:

In a first of its kind attempt on the West Coast to free a blue whale, an endangered species that officials say rarely becomes entangled, a fleet of rescue boats from local business and law enforcement set out into the Pacific. For hours on Monday, they tracked the struggling whale, Reuters reported, at times getting close enough to dip long poles into the water while the animal surfaced to breathe. At the end of the pole were cutters, used to slice away at the entanglement.

This cutter is a specialized tool designed by the folks at Spyderco called Whale Rescue Blade. How did Spyderco get involved in making such a special tool designed solely for the rescue of whales?


Well, in 2005, Doug Coughran—an Australian wildlife officer—sought out a safer whale rescue blade for his team from knife maker Jim Steele. Because it needed to have strong serrations, Steele immediately thought of the SpyderEdge and recommended Coughran contact Spyderco.

So when Coughran asked Sal Glesser, the founder of Spyderco, to make the tool, he said why not? Here’s a good story from Spyderco about why they would agree to make something so specialized.

Several members of our own crew questioned why we would agree to make these blades. They were large, expensive and difficult to make. The decreasing radius Hawkbill blade alone was a challenge, to put a SpyderEdge on it required a great deal of skill. However once they were able to see photographs of the whales that the blade was intended to help, they understood clearly and were committed to supporting the project.

The fact that they did it because they cared about whales and the wildlife is commendable.

Ocean wildlife is under constant threat from all directions, whether it’s predators in the sea or gyres of marine debris particles. Humans are by far the largest threat to the ocean biodiversity, so this is just a step in making things right.

The blue whale entangled off the Pacific grew agitated at the attention and dove deep beneath the surface. Rescuers are still on the lookout and will undoubtedly use the Spyderco Whale Rescue Tool if the whale is spotted again.


Although this story is still ongoing, H. Clay Alders from The Truth About Knives wrote about another story in which a humpback whale was saved off the coast of California, possibly by the Whale Rescue Tool.

We have a long series of posts that chronicle the many ways knives have saved people’s lives over the years. Although it may not be a human life, this is another example of how knives are used to save lives.

While this is highly specialized, Knife Depot sells the Spyderco Whale Rescue Blade for $119.99.


  1. It’s amazing that anyone would question putting effort into helping these endangered animals when they are under a constant barrage of crap left in their home by human stupidly. It’s the very LEAST we can do!

    • Tim

      July 1, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      It’s discouraging but some people won’t do things unless it’s economically viable and beneficial. Kudos to Spyderco even more for not making it a big deal that they did it. Other companies would have released tons of press releases and patted themselves on the back.

  2. horse hoof knife would work too. The tip is rolled over in a blunt curve with the sharp edge.

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