September 12, 2017

CCS MAER team disentangles humpback whale off Ballston Beach, Truro. CCS image, NOAA permit #18786.

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) disentangled a humpback whale today off Ballston Beach, Truro.

The MAER team and scientists from the Center’s Humpback Whale Studies Program were conducting a research survey when they came across the whale anchored in fishing gear about two miles off Ballston Beach. The whale had two tight wraps of rope around the base of the tail heading to gear on the seafloor; thankfully it was still able to reach the surface to breath.

After contacting NOAA, the permitting agency for whale disentanglement, the team was given the go ahead to attempt a disentanglement. After assessing the whale the team used a hook-shaped on a thirty foot long pole to cut through the wraps of rope around the tail. The whale swam off as soon as it was released.

Based on its injuries, the whale was likely recently entangled but had dragged one set of fishing gear into two more gear sets, eventually anchoring it to the sea floor. Despite this, the whale appeared to be in good condition and is expected to recover.

Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles or sharks to the MAER team (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.

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