October 31, 2020 The CCS Marine Animal Entanglement Response team (MAER) is continuing to track an entangled North Atlantic right whale identified as #3920, nicknamed Cottontail.
Cottontail, an 11-year-old male, was found by the CCS aerial survey team on October 19, south of Nantucket, swimming with hundreds of feet of rope trailing his mouth and tightly wrapping his upper jaw. The MAER team responded and was able to remove 100 feet of rope and outfit the remaining entanglement with a satellite telemetry buoy to track the whale for further intervention.
Since that time the whale has traveled over 700 miles (see image) and has not yet presented opportunities for a disentanglement attempt due to sea conditions.
On Friday, October 30, the whale crossed the Hague Line, into Canadian waters. The Campobello Whale Rescue Team in the Bay of Fundy was alerted and they are prepared to respond. The whale is still far offshore and strong wind and waves are expected over the coming days. Based on the telemetry from the buoy, the whale has been averaging about 70 miles of travel per day, though it does appear that he may have stopped to feed in two or three areas during his travels. The MAER team will continue to track his whereabouts hoping to find the whale within range of a response vessel and in favorable sea conditions.
Scott Landry, director of MAER, said that “this will be an enormous challenge for any response team. The whale is highly mobile and it’s Fall in the North Atlantic. Every day for the last ten days we have either faced a whale that was too far offshore to reach before sunset or seas that were simply too rough for us to do the work we need to do. We are optimistic that opportunities will arise”.
Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles or other marine animals 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 grants from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF), and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Support is also provided by the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, 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.