Video: Cape-based Team Disentangles Whale in New York Harbor

Center for Coastal Studies photo:

PROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies helped disentangle a humpback whale in New York Harbor Thursday.

The Provincetown-based crew was assisted by federal, state and municipal partners.

The young whale was first seen entangled off Cape Cod last October. It had a portion of gillnet gear, including rope and small floats, wrapped around its upper jaw.

After that sighting, the whale took up residence around New York Harbor.

The team made two attempts to disentangle the whale there, in November and December, without luck.

In late-June of this year, whale watchers and recreational boaters again began to report sightings of the whale.

By the Fourth of July holiday week, the whale was consistently seen off Sandy Hook, New Jersey and the Verrazano Narrows by New York City.

An attempt to disentangle the whale then was called off due to extremely high maritime traffic within the harbor.

With a predicted drop in traffic this week and a good forecast, a new effort undertaken, resulting in the successful disentanglement.

The Cape-based rescuers were flown from Provincetown by pilot Philip Greenspun, with the East Coast Aero Club, who volunteered to fly the team to New Jersey.

“The operation went remarkably well” said Scott Landry of the MAER team.

“The whale was found quickly and we accomplished our goal soon afterward. Now the whale needs time. Time to shed the remaining gear as it feeds and time for its immune system to stave off infection. We have done all we can do for the whale.”

The whale watch community off New York and New Jersey have been urged to keep an eye out for the whale and monitor its entanglement for any signs of change.

“Any attempt to remove what is left could be tremendously harmful for the whale and many whales before it have dealt with gear caught in their baleen,” said Landry

A few hours after the teams left the whale, whale watchers aboard the American Princess and Gotham Whale reported that the whale was actively feeding on menhaden not far from the Verrazano Bridge.

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