NOAA and a number of private boats have recently teamed up together to save a young humpback whale from heavy fishing nets just of the coast of Hawaii.
The whale, which was spotted off the coast of Maui, was rescued by the coordinated efforts of NOAA’s Hawaiin islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Along with NOAA and other private vessels, the US Coast Guard also assisted by attaching a tracking beacon to the young whale in case they were to lose the whale.
NOAA’s Ed Lyman, the sanctuary’s whale entanglement coordinator, was part of the team that cut the gear away from the whale. The whale was dragging about 500 feet (152 meters) of gear and the thick line was “deeply embedded” in the whale’s mouth, he said.
The whale was “moderately emaciated” and had light skin and carpets of whale lice on it, Lyman said. “Those are all indicators that it had been carrying this gear for some time, likely months,” he added.
It is possible the whale migrated from Alaska or another northern feeding ground with the gear already attached. The trap line that was found in the whale is typically used to catch crabs and other bottom fish in the north Pacific.
Humpback whales migrate annually to the cooler waters of the poles and then back to warmer sub-tropical waters to raise their young. With the ever-growing amount of ghost-gear in the sea today, these animals life’s are being put in jeopardy as they traverse the globe without being stuck and entangled in humans careless practice of tossing or cutting fish gear back into the sea.