Humpback whale “Storm” disentangled by MAER crew

August 14, 2016

CCS_MnStorm_NOAA18786The CCS MAER team disentangled a humpback whale on Stellwagen Bank today, about 30miles east of Boston.

The whale, a current mother, was identified as Storm by the CCS Humpback Whale Studies Program. Storm was towing a 150 foot length of rope through her mouth  when she was discovered and reported by the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch out of Provincetown. The Dolphin Fleet, Tails of the Sea, Seasalt Charters and the Whale Watcher, out of Hyannis, took turns standing by the pair as the MAER team made its way on scene.

The team found that Storm had a long length of rope through her mouth, likely caught as she was feeding. While the whale did not appear to be immediately hindered by the entanglement, the team felt that the rope posed an entanglement risk to her calf.

Using a grappling hook attached to a length of rope and large buoys thrown into her entanglement, the team gradually added drag to the long length or rope exiting her mouth. During the two-hour disentanglement operation, the team backed away from the pair when the calf began to nurse. Eventually the team removed all of the rope from Storm, and the pair sped off quickly.

Many thanks goes to the crew and passengers of the whale watches that patiently stood by the whales.

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 Massachusetts Environmental Trust, the Pegasus Foundation, the Hermann Foundation, the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the Grace W. Allsop Foundation, the MALLRD Foundation, and contributions from CCS members. All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NOAA.