Provincetown rescue team frees entangled humpback calf

Team heads to Gloucester to free calf Thursday


   The MAER crew works to free the calf seen above with its mother Tornado. PCCS image. Taken under NOAA permit 932-1905. with authority of the ESA.

The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies' Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) was called off Cape Tuesday to free a humpback whale calf off the waters of Gloucester according to a release from the center.  A naturalist about the Cape Ann Whale Watch first reported the badly injured calf. The whale had been identified as the still dependent calf of a humpback called Tornado.

Members of the US Coast Guard and the National Marine Fisheries responded with MAER, but the calf could not be located. On Thursday, MAER and an aerial survey crew from PCCS took to the sky, and spotted the calf with its mother off the northern tip of Stellwagen Bank, some 20 miles east of Gloucester.

The calf, according to the release, was towing buoys and more than 500 feet of line wrapped around its left flipper.  "This was a remarkably difficult disentanglement," said Scott Landry, MAER Director. "The calf was traveling very fast in an attempt to keep up with its mother, so we had to work while being towed at high speed."

It took the team in a small inflatable boat several hours to free the calf from the line. The calf suffered extensive lacerations across its body, but was last seen swimming calmly with its mother.

This is MAER's ninth successful whale disentanglement this year, according to PCCS.

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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