A crew from the Provincetown-based Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) freed a humpback whale from a dangerous entanglement Sunday. According to a release from CCS, the whale was reported by a commercial fisherman via the Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) hotline in the afternoon.
Rescuers assisted by a Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) aerial survey team spotted the young humpback whale off Race Point in Provincetown.
Heavy rope was tightly wrapped around the whale's girth. The whale's poor condition indicated to rescuers that it had likely been entangled for weeks, maybe months. The crew set about cutting the whale free from the ropes using a grappling hook, a pole, a knife to the cut the rope and large buoys to slow the whale down.
Although the crew successfully freed the whale, they remain "cautiously optimistic" given its condition, the release said. The whale had lost a great deal of weight and had numerous, active wounds. CCS's Humpback Whale Studies team is working to identify the whale.
Boaters who see marine animals including whales and sea turtles in distress are encourage to call the MAER hotline at 800-900-3622 or report the animal to the United States Coast Guard via VHF 16. Callers are asked to stay with the animal at a safe distance until help arrives.
CCS rescue work is done under NOAA authorization.