Whale Rescued From Life-Threatening Entanglement Off Martha’s Vineyard

Minke WhaleMARTHA’S VINEYARD – A minke whale was rescued from a life-threatening entanglement about 40 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend.

The 15 foot whale had been anchored in fishing gear for at least three days when crews from the Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement Response team were able to free the whale.

The animal was originally spotted by a passing mariner on Friday. Crews were unable to get to the scene until Sunday due to poor weather conditions.

“We are very thankful that the mariner reported the whale. Had we not received notification as quickly as we did, the outcome could have been very different,” said Bob Lynch, a member of the rescue team.

The whale had a wrap of rope around its jaw. The rope was attached to fishing equipment at the sea floor. The rope prevented the animal from moving beyond small circles, however the whale was able to get to the surface for air.

Rescuers were able to cut the rope caught in the animal’s mouth, freeing the whale. The animal was wary of boats, so crews used a small inflatable boat to approach the whale and eventually cut the rope.

The whale was injured by the entanglement but is expected to recover. “It looked to be in good condition once we released it,” rescuer Jenn Tackaberry said.

Rescue crews were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement Response team responds to whale entanglements in the waters off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. This weekend’s rescue took place at the southern portion of their response area. The organization’s disentanglement work is funded by a grants from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The work is also supported by a variety of private grants and funding.

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