A humpback whale was discovered two weeks ago. It was caught up in a steel rope tied to a 300-pound crab trap on April 27 in Monterey Bay. Luckily, marine biologists were able to track the whale and return to release it from the entanglement and set it free on earlier this week.
Crews began their rescue efforts for the humpback whale on April 28. They attempted to cut the rope off and set the whale free. The heavy trap even prevented it from diving for food. But unsafe weather conditions, including 10-foot waves and gusty winds, prevented a full rescue at that time. This postponed the biologists from rescuing the whale and freeing it from the entanglement, but they were able to fit it with a satellite tracker. They were able to relocated the humpback whale via the tracker on Wednesday and fully free the sea creature off the coast of Santa Barbara. It required a team of 20 people and four boats to get the rescue underway.
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were able to find the humpback whale using the satellite tracker and resume their quest to set it free from the entanglement. The team cut the steel rope and freed the sea creature, which was all caught on video. The video shows the NOAA entanglement team cutting the rope free from its tail. They most likely saved its life. The biologists feared that if the whale been tangled up in the rope much longer, it would have lost its tail or its life since the rope was wrapped so tightly around the base of the tail. Luckily, it did not come to that.
Justin Viezbicke, from the National Marines Fisheries Service, stated that the humpback whale was actually a sub-adult, though they were not able to determine its sex. “The main thing is this whale has a chance now,” Viezbicke said.
Peggy Snap from Marine Life Studies in Moss Landing, California was the one who initially spotted the troubled hunchback whale. She told local news station KSBW, “The whale was absolutely exhausted and had been through so much. It had traveled 684 nautical miles since we found it in Monterey.” It was reportedly in rough shape, but once it was cut free, the biologists watched it safely swim away.
According to the Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction, as many as 66 percent of the humpback whales near the U.S. and Canada have experienced a minimum of one entanglement, though many have had multiple incidents. They also report that young whales are more likely to become entangled and put in danger.
Although many whales perish due to being caught in nets and other entanglements, this particular humpback whale was saved and set free after a two week entanglement in a steel rope. It was the diligence of the marine biologists and other crew members who tracked the whale and searched it out after the storm to continue their rescue efforts that helped save its life and allow it to swim away with its tail in tact.
By Tracy Rose