Center for Coastal Studies team frees entangled minke whale

Saturday, April 12, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Center for Coastal Studies contact:

Cathrine Macort
+1-508-487-3622 x103
+1-508-808-9660
cmacort@coastalstudies.org

Responders from the CCS MAER team work to free minke whale entangled in fishing gear. CCS image under NOAA permit #932-1905.

Responders from the CCS MAER team work to free minke whale entangled in fishing gear.
CCS image under NOAA
permit #932-1905.

Yesterday afternoon the Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) in Provincetown released a minke whale from fishing gear approximately 10 miles outside Boston Harbor.

The whale was first spotted earlier this week by researchers from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), who were in the area to retrieve a passive acoustic buoy used to record the sounds of right whales. NEFSC reported the entanglement to the MAER Hotline but deteriorating weather conditions prevented the team from responding at that time.

The NEFSC vessel returned to the site yesterday and spotted the whale in the same location; observers were able to confirm that the whale was towing a rope and buoy. After calling in the sighting to the MAER team the NEFSC researchers stood by the whale until they were relieved by a USCG vessel from Boston.

When CCS responders arrived at the location they found the minke swimming in large circles, indicating that it was anchored in place by the fishing gear. The team quickly established a workline with a grapple to the entanglement, which kept the whale near the surface and allowed them time to assess the condition of the animal and the extent of the entanglement.

The whale, which was very small and presumed to be a juvenile, had the buoy line wrapped tightly around its lower jaw. The MAER team deployed a small inflatable vessel and used the workline to approach the whale; when they were close enough, the responders were able to make a single cut to the line, freeing the whale from the gear. The whale swam off vigorously.

The Center wishes to thank the NEFSC and the USCG for their assistance with this case.

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.

CCS disentanglement work is supported by a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF). Support for the Marine Animal Response Team also comes from grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, 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.