Rescuers free right whale from entanglement Wednesday

Provincetown Center for Coast Studies' MAER team spots young male during dedicated search


   Entangled North Atlantic right whale #3821. PCCS image taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit 932-1905 with authority of the ESA.

Another North American right whale was freed of entanglement Wednesday in Cape Cod Bay, thanks to the quick response of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies' (PCCS) Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team. The young male was sighted by the team during a dedicated search Wednesday, according to PCCS spokesperson Catherine Macort.

The whale had line looped over his head and through his mouth, according to Macort.  Members of the MAER team used a thirty-foot pole and a hook shaped knife to cut the line.  The remainder of the line in the whale's mouth will most likely be shed over time.

This isn't the first time PCCS has come to this particular young whale's rescue. In 2009, only a mile away from Wednesday's rescue, the same whale, dubbed #3821, was freed from different fishing gear.

Only 475 North Atlantic right whales are known to exist. Of that number, 320 were documented in Cape Cod Bay in 2011, according to Macort.

The MAER team has disentangled more than 180 whales and sea turtles since 1984. In 2011 alone, the team, under the leadership of Scott Landry, the program's director, successfully freed five leatherback turtles, four humpback whales and two North Atlantic right whales during thirty separate rescue attempts.

North Atlantic right whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Federal law prohibits approaching within 500 yards of a right whale.  If you see an entangled whale in the waters off Southern New England, do not approach the animal. Instead, call 800-900-3622.

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