Provincetown team disentangles humpback whale off Chatham

Responders used a hooked knife on the end of a long pole to make several strategic cuts through the entanglement.
Credit: CCS, NOAA permit #18786-3

CHATHAM – The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team (MAER) from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) disentangled a humpback whale yesterday afternoon off of Chatham, MA.

A charter vessel discovered the whale early yesterday morning; they reported it to the CCS Hotline, then stood by the whale until they were relieved by a crew from USCG Chatham. USCG Chatham stood by until the CCS team, accompanied by trainees from Cascadia Research Collective and SR3, arrived on scene.

The female humpback, identified as the 2015 calf of Jabiru, had a buoy line lodged in her mouth and wrapped over her head; the trailing end of the line extended about 40 feet behind her flukes.

After establishing a control line on the entanglement the MAER team, working from a small inflatable boat, used a hooked knife on the end of a long pole to make several strategic cuts through the entanglement. Buoys and a drogue were attached to one end of the remaining line and as the whale swam off the drag caused the rest of the entanglement to slip out of its mouth.

When the whale resurfaced about a quarter of a mile away the crew aboard the R/V Ibis the whale appeared to be gear free.

The MAER team thanks the charter vessel, USCG-Chatham, and the trainees for all their help on this case.

Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles or sharks to the MAER team (1-800-900-3622) or the US Coast Guard on VHF 16, and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.

CCS disentanglement work is supported by grants from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF), and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Support is also provided by the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, the Pegasus Foundation, the Hermann Foundation, the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, and contributions from CCS members. All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NOAA.

The CCS MAER team added buoys to the entanglement and the resulting drag caused the line to slip out of the whale’s mouth.
Credit: CCS, NOAA permit #18786-3
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