A rare North Atlantic right whale was freed from entanglement today by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies' (PCCS) Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team.
The whale was sighted by the MAER team during a dedicated search. The whale had line looped over the head and through the mouth. The team used a thirty foot pole and hook shaped knife to cut the loop. The whale will likely shed the remaining line in the mouth over time. The disentanglement today was only a mile away from where this whale was disentangled from a different set of gear in 2009. The whale is a young male identified as 3821.
With a current population of just 475 individuals (320 of which were documented in Cape Cod Bay in 2011), the North Atlantic right whale is listed as a critically endangered species and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Despite this designation, right whales remain at significant risk from human-caused injury and mortality; in fact, almost three quarters of the population exhibits scars from ship strikes and previous entanglements in fishing gear.
The Center for Coastal Studies' Marine Animal Entanglement Response team has safely disentangled more than 180 whales and sea turtles since its inception in 1984. In the last year alone the team, under the leadership of program director Scott Landry, conducted over 30 on-water operations and freed five leatherback turtles, four humpback whales and two North Atlantic right whales.
PCCS right whale research and response operations are conducted in partnership with Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with support from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust under federal permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service. To report an entangled animal in Southern New England, please call: 1800-900-3622.
The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 and dedicated to preserving coastal and marine ecosystems and providing educational activities which promote the responsible stewardship of our oceans.
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