Provincetown disentanglement team frees two whales and four sea turtles this week

Six separate rescues--all endangered species

Fishing line and gear a constant danger to marine life


   The MAER team using a thirty-foot pole to cut the lines holding down the flukes of a humpback whale east of NH on Sunday. PCCS Image taken under NOAA Permit 932-1905.

It has been a busy summer for the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team and an especially busy week.  Over the past several days the team as freed six different endangered marine animals all caught or tangled in fishing gear and line.

The MAER team electronically scanning the shoulder of an entangled leatherback before releasing it from its entanglement last Thursday off Provincetown. PCCS Image taken under NOAA Permit CFR 222.310.

In all, two humpback whales were rescued--one 25-miles of the coast of New Hampshire and one off Peaked Hill in Provincetown, and three Leatherback sea turtles from four different locations in Cape Cod Bay (one unlucky sea turtle was actually freed twice, first off Provincetown, then off Dennis).

In each of the cases, MAER was called in after the entanglements were reported by mariners--both commercial and recreational.

Each rescue was successful and the animal was set free.  Two of the three sea turtles were tagged by rescuers in an effort to gather data about the species for researchers.  According to PCCS spokesperson Cathrine Macort, this is the team's busiest summer to date with eleven sea turtle rescues.

Once again MEAER Director Scott Landry praised the mariners who discovered, reported and stayed with the animal until the rescue team arrived.  "These disentanglements would not have been successful without the help of the fishermen, recreational boaters, the US Coast Guard, MEP, the Dolphin Fleet and Harbor masters from Provincetown to Dennis. In all cases these mariners stayed with the animal until we arrived, monitoring the animals’ movements and guiding us quickly to their location. When you consider how endangered humpbacks and leatherbacks are these efforts can make a huge difference," Landry said.

Mariners who spot an entangled whale or sea turtle are encouraged to call the team's hotline at 800-900-3622 or notify the Coast Guard, then stay with the animal until rescuers arrive.

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