Posted by: The ocean update | June 23, 2016

Whale rescued from tangle of ropes, buoys (Massachusetts, USA)

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team uses grappling hooks to rescue a 60-foot fin whale Wednesday.

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team uses grappling hooks to rescue a 60-foot fin whale Wednesday.

June 23rd, 2016 (J.D. Capelouto). Crews rescued a large whale that was tangled in a snarl of ropes and buoys off the coast of Massachusetts Wednesday.

The fishing gear had lodged in the mouth of the 60-foot fin whale, and a length of buoys was trailing 70 feet behind it, according to the Center for Coastal Studies. The animal was on Stellwagen Bank, a marine sanctuary 25 miles east of Boston.

The center’s Marine Animal Entanglement Response team was able to cut away most of the rope using grappling hooks. Whenever the whale tried to swim away, the hooks cut through the rope, the center said. The team did this several times, making the rope progressively shorter.

“Rather than try to pull the final section of rope out of the whale’s mouth, the team chose to let the whale continue on,” the center said. “During bouts of feeding the whale should be able to shed the remaining rope naturally over time.”

Rescuers located the struggling whale with the help of a tuna fisherman, who spotted the animal and stayed with it as the center’s crew set it free.

Boaters had also seen the whale entangled last Saturday east of Cape Cod, but boaters lost sight of it before rescue teams could respond. Before that, this whale had not been seen since last October.

Fin whales, a federally endangered species, are difficult to spot if they become entangled because they do not often surface, the center said.

Responders use a thrown grappling-hook to attach a working line and buoy to the entanglement. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786

Responders use a thrown grappling-hook to attach a working line and buoy to the entanglement. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #18786

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