Provincetown-Based Team Disentangles Whale Off Cape Ann

 MAER crew use a hooked knife to cut entanglement from humpback whale Foggy. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786.

MAER crew use a hooked knife to cut entanglement from humpback whale Foggy. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786.

PROVINCETOWN – A team from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown responded to an entangled whale Wednesday off Cape Ann.

The entanglement was first reported by the crew of a fishing boat in the area.

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team had to leave heavy rope that was embedded around the circumference of her body.

Removing that portion of her entanglement would likely have been immediately lethal.

Rescuers said the whale had a number of twisted ropes, about 1 inch thick, wrapped around the circumference of her body, just behind her head.

The collar of line was embedded 3-6 inches deep into blubber and muscle. This rope had become snagged on more fishing gear that was attached to the seafloor, anchoring the whale to a small circle but allowing her to remain at the surface for air.

 A collar of heavy line remains embedded in the whale's body. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786.

A collar of heavy line remains embedded in the whale’s body. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786.

The team worked with the whale for over nine hours, eventually freeing her from anchor and severing the collar around her body.

While the prognosis of the whale is much better, the overall condition is quite poor.

“We dulled or broke every knife in our kit and every teammate worked their fingers to the bone for this whale. Short of removing the 40 ton whale from the ocean and performing surgery, we did everything humanly possible for this idividual” said Scott Landry, Director of the MAER program.

“With the collar now broken she has a chance to naturally reject the rope but she is quite thin and in poor condition so we have to hope for the best.”

This is the second time that this whale, identified by Center for Coastal Studies Humpback Whale Studies researchers as a 29 year old female name Foggy, has been disentangled.

The first time was in September 2013, in the Bay of Fundy, off Nova Scotia with the team working alongside the Campobello Whale Rescue Team.

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

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