Entangled humpback whale freed off Nauset Beach

On Friday, July 21,  Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) in Provincetown disentangled a young humpback whale northeast of Nauset Inlet.

The MAER team attached buoys to the entangling gear to slow the whale and keep it at the surface. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786

The whale was discovered by a charter vessel just outside the inlet. It was towing two orange buoys but was still able to travel and dive. The CCS MAER team arrived on scene about an hour later and relocated the whale approximately three miles northwest of the first reported position.

The whale had a bridle of heavy line looped though its mouth and twisted across its back; tangled line and buoys trailed about 100 feet behind its flukes.

The team attached a grapple with a series of floats to the trailing gear to slow the whale down and keep it near the surface. The team then moved up along the lines, cutting away large bundles of gear as they went. Eventually they were able to safely approach the animal, cut through the twisted line and unwind the gear. The bridle untwisted and the whale was left with a short length of line in its mouth. As it moved away the remaining rope was pulled from its mouth and it sped off.

The Center for Coastal Studies is grateful to the crew of the charter vessel for their support.

Boaters 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 on VHF 16, 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 DJ&T Foundation, 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.