PCCS Disentangles Humpback Whale; WHOI needs volunteers

Disentanglement team member with hook-shaped knife on pole approaching entangled humpback, Banjo. Taken on 5/12/07 off Race Point, Provincetown.  PCCS image taken under NOAA Fisheries permit 932-1489, under the authority of the US Endangered Species Act."

cctoday25_120Banjo was freed off Race Point, Provincetown this past Saturday

n endangered humpback whale entangled in marine rope off Race Point, was freed by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) on Saturday.  The PCCS humpback whale research team documented the markings on the underside of the flukes and determined the whale was Banjo, first identified in the spring of 2006.

At approximately 8:00 a.m. the disentanglement team received a report of an entangled whale from Coast Guard station Provincetown. The whale was spotted and initially reported by a fisheries research group aboard the vessel West Cove, which was conducting surveys for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

rvibis350_350The disentanglement team aboard the 40 foot R/V Ibis (shown here in a previous rescue) found the humpback whale thrashing at the surface with three wraps of rope around the base of its flukes when they arrived on scene at 10 a.m. The whale had numerous cuts and scrapes from the entanglement.  The PCCS team determined the best option for the whale was to try to release it immediately. They maneuvered the vessel behind the animal to cut the wraps using a hook knife attached to the tip of a long pole.  Initial attempts to approach the whale failed, as sea conditions worsened.  Finally, the team succeeded, making one cut which freed the whale of all gear. The whale lay at the surface a few moments before swimming away.

The operation would not have been possible without the dedication of the crew aboard the West Cove and the communications of the USCG.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Only three percent of all entangled humpbacks are reported to authorities annually.
  • Between 48% and 65% of the photo-documented humpbacks off the Northeast U.S. coastline exhibit scarring indicative of an entanglement at some point in their life time.
  • Scar acquisition rates suggest that 10-25% of the population becomes entangled each year.
  • After serious depletion from centuries of hunting, North Atlantic humpback whale stocks began to slowly rebound late in the 20th Century.  There are now approximately 12,000 humpback whales in the North Atlantic. About 900 of these whales feed off the Northeast coast of the United States.
  • Humpbacks remain listed as an endangered species in the United States.

All federally authorized large whale disentanglement activities along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. are conducted by the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network, a program of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies operating under contract with NOAA Fisheries Service. Leave a comment

cctoday25_120Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution needs volunteers

woods_hole_aquarium300_373 Are you looking for a way to meet new people and to learn about marine marine science research? The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is looking for people interested in becoming involved in its Volunteer Program.

WHOI is looking for people who are interested in volunteering in the Institution’s Ocean Science Exhibit Center. The requirements are a smiling face, a friendly manner, and the ability to commit to four hours a week from June through August.

Volunteers serve an important role at the Oceanographic, especially in helping respond to interest from the public. We have volunteers from diverse backgrounds, with a curiosity about the ocean and the research that’s going on in their community, and the desire to meet interesting people from around the world.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and would like more information, please contact Sandra Murphy in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Information Office at 508-289-2252

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