Provincetown team frees entangled humpback whale – second rescue in two days

Saturday, July 7, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
PCCS Contact:
Cathrine Macort
+1-508-487-3622 x103
+1-508-808-9660
cmacort@coastalstudies.org

The flukes of Serengeti as the team makes an assessment of the entanglement before disentanglement. PCCS image taken under NOAA permit 932-1905.

The flukes of Serengeti as the team makes an assessment of the entanglement before disentanglement. PCCS image taken under NOAA permit 932-1905.

On Friday afternoon the Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) Team at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies disentangled another humpback whale off Chatham, the second in the last two days. The team worked with the US Coastguard, local fishermen and recreational boaters to accomplish the task.

Line that was attached to heavy gear at the seafloor was caught in the whales mouth and wrapped around its head, making normal breathing difficult for the animal.

Using a grappling hook to secure the rope beneath the whale, the team then used a hooked knife at the end of a thirty foot pole to make a single cut that released the whale.

The Center’s Humpback Whale Studies program identified the animal as Serengeti, a whale seen recently in local waters. While bruised and abraded by its entanglement, the team expects the whale to make a good recovery. Scars from the entanglement will be monitored by the Humpback Studies program as part of a long term project to better understand the impact of entanglements on the humpback population.

Summer is typically a busy time for the entanglement response team, thanks in large part to the increased number of recreational boaters on the water. Mariners are urged to quickly 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 stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.

PCCS 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 PCCS members. All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NOAA.

The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting marine mammals and ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine through applied research and education.