Young humpback whale disentangled off Boston by CCS MAER team

December 11, 2016

CCS mAER team disentangle a young humpback whale off Boston. December 11. 2016. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786.

CCS MAER team disentangle a young humpback whale off Boston. December 11. 2016. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786.

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) in Provincetown disentangled a young humpback whale outside Boston this morning. The whale had likely been anchored by its entanglement for the better part of a week. While the prognosis for the whale is now much better, it will take time for it to heal.

The whale was first discovered by commercial fishermen on Thursday but sea conditions were too poor for the MAER team to respond that day. Working in cooperation with the fishermen, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the US Coast Guard, the team was able to respond today during a break in the weather.

The small whale, approximately 30 feet long, had rope wrapped around the base of its tail, leading to fishing gear at the sea floor. From aboard a small inflatable the team used a hook-shaped knife at the end of a thirty foot pole to make two cuts to the entanglement, which released the whale. Once freed the team spent two hours with the whale to monitor its progress as it slowly moved north away from the Boston shipping lanes.

The whale had rope wrapped around the base of its tail, leading to fishing gear at the sea floor. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786

The whale had rope wrapped around the base of its tail, leading to fishing gear at the sea floor. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786

The Center’s Humpback Whale Studies team will attempt to identify the whale, and its hoped the whale will be seen at a later date to monitor its progress.

The Center for Coastal Studies is grateful to the commercial fisherman for reporting and standing by this whale, and to the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the US Coast Guard for their help in this case.

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.