DISENTANGLED HUMPBACK CALF FREED NEAR JUNEAU
August 19, 2011
Humpback whale calf entangled in buoy.
"We received a report of a calf entangled in line with a trailing buoy traveling with its mother at a rapid clip, about 5 knots," said Kate Savage, NOAA marine mammal specialist and veterinarian. "They maintained that speed throughout the disentanglement operation, which made things quite challenging."
A number of whale watching boats monitored the pair until the NOAA team arrived. Members of the team attached a transmitter to the calf as a safeguard against losing its location. They returned shortly later aboard the Auke Bay Lab's research boat, The Quest, to begin the disentanglement operation.
The process was a bit tricky, as the mother humpback was very protective of her calf, and kept trying to position herself between the rescuers and the calf.
After assessing which lines to cut that would allow for disentanglement, scientists severed those lines to successfully free the calf at about 8 p.m. just west of Berners Bay. The calf was still trailing a short section of line which was not considered life threatening, and was expected to drop without further intervention.
The team continued to monitor the whale pair for about 30 minutes to make sure all was okay. The rescue operation took several hours.
NOAA Fisheries asks fishers to help prevent entanglements by reducing unnecessary scope on pot gear, minimizing soak times, and removing gear that is not actively fishing.
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