Crews Rescue Entangled Humpback Whale off Cape Cod

WHALEPROVINCETOWN – Crews with the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown worked to help an entangled whale off Cape Cod on Wednesday.

The whale, which was towing heavy rope and large buoy, was first reported by a commercial fisherman on Tuesday morning off Chatham.

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team from the Center was able to attach a tracking buoy to the entanglement before poor sea conditions cut short their efforts.

However, the whale was tracked as it traveled south through the night, and by 9:30 a.m. the following day, the team was back working with the animal.

The whale had five tight loops of heavy rope wrapped around and embedded within the base of its tail, cutting off the flow of blood to the flukes.

As a result, the flukes had turned entirely white and floppy, and had become useless for swimming; the whale was making way by dog paddling with its right and left flippers.

The team added a series of buoys to the entanglement to slow the whale and keep it at the surface.

Using very sharp knives on long poles they were able to cut away most of the rope, but left some line around the wound that may act as a temporary tourniquet to prevent against massive blood loss.

This rope should unwind and be rejected over time.

Scott Landry, Director of the MAER team, noted that, while the overall condition of the young whale appeared surprisingly good – it was active, responsive and not emaciated – its long term prognosis is likely very poor, as it’s possible it may lose its flukes entirely.

Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles and other marine animals to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline at 1-800-900-3622 or the U.S. Coast Guard and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.

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