Subject: Entanglement:Humpback on SB (fwd)

mike williamson (
Mon, 18 May 1998 22:12:55 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Fwd:Humpback on SB

Whale watch vessels who were involved with the initial reporting and monitoring
were able to stand by.  The Center for Coastal Studies arrived on scene between
3:30 and 4:00 pm and successfully disentangled the humpback over the next
several hours.  The USCG sent a 41-footer from Provincetown which was able to
stay in the area to keep other vessels at a safe distance and actually helped in
the disentanglement at one point.  

The whale had the gillnet float line, webbing, and lead line woven around its
flukes and was effectively anchored by the gear.  It was difficult to cut
through the gear because of the way it was bunched up, so CCS will be thinking
about designing new cutting tools for this type of application.

Information on all residual injuries will not be available until the photos are
developed.  The whale had some superficial wounds and was apparently stressed
(whistling and trumpeting).  It may have just gotten entangled that afternoon. 
Whale watch vessels reported 2 normal dives and then thrashing.  CCS got both
video and photograph, some of which might provide individual identification of
this animal.  

CCS was not able to determine vessel ID from the part of the gear they saw.  It
was too heavy to haul the whole gillnet set to see if it was connected to any of
the surface marking gear in the area; current was also strong.  No tags were
found on the portion of the net that was retrieved, which was full of dogfish
and had a couple cod, skates, and a lobster in it.  CCS marked the gear that
went back into the water, and we are hoping that it will be resighted for
further investigation.  

Given the hour of the day and the challenge of removing a stressed whale from a
string of sink gillnet gear (which can be over a mile in length, max of 6,600
ft) while working from a small inflatable, the CCS team did a fantastic job with
this animal.

Although the event was a success for the whale, it highlights the logistical
(?and legal?) problems associated with retrieving the "evidence" associated with
an entanglement after a whale has already been freed.  In many cases, CCS will
not have a vessel capable of pulling heavy fishing gear, so if we want to follow
through on the critical "gear research" angle, we will have to make other

___________________Forward Header_____________________
Subject:    Humpback on SB
Author: Kimberly Thounhurst
Date:       5/15/98 2:05 PM

I just received a report from the Center for Coastal Studies of a humpback
entangled in gillnet gear north of the SW corner of Stellwagen Bank.

CCS will be underway shortly in the R/V Shearwater.  Whale watch vessels are
standing by. 

The whale seems to be anchored and is reportedly calm.