Saturday, 16 March 2013

Divers Free Whale Entangled in Fishing Gear

Andrea Thompson, OurAmazingPlanet Managing Editor

Specially trained divers recently freed a humpback whale swimming off the island of Maui from a tangle of rope, a potentially life-threatening situation for the animal.

A tour vessel and a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft initially spotted the whale on March 8;the animal had small-gauge line cutting into its tail, according to a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Sanctuaries. Observers found the whale in the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, where humpbacks migrate each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young.

A response effort, led by the sanctuary and working under NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, was quickly launched, the release said. Divers cut away 40 feet (12 meters) of trailing line, but couldn't completely free the whale.

However, they attached a satellite-tag buoy to the whale and relocated it between Kaho'olawe and Lana'I on Monday (March 11); there, they were able to remove the rest of the gear tangled around the animal.

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