Subject: Info:Rare whale in trouble off Mass (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Thu, 8 Aug 1996 14:57:24 -0400 (EDT)

Rare whale in trouble off Mass. coast

   BOSTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Fog hampered efforts Tuesday by marine
scientists to find a rare right whale caught in some life-threatening
nets off the coast of Massachusetts.
   The distressed 30-ton leviathan was spotted Monday by the captain of
a whale-watching expedition on a trip to Stellwagen Bank, a marine
wildlife sanctuary 20 miles offshore where the mammals feed.
   Kathy Shorr of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass.,
said visibility was only about 50 feet in fog Tuesday, making it
"exremely difficult" to spot any whales in the area.
   The Center's Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo said right whales are the
rarest in the world, with fewer than 300 left.
   "The most dangerous entanglement is a net around the mouth because
the animals stop feeding and can't free themselves," Mayo said. He said
the whale would eventually starve to death.
   A Coast Guard helicopter searched for the animal later Monday but was
unable to spot it. The Coast Guard was standing by Tuesday to help bring
rescuers to the whale if it was located.
   Mayo said if it can be found, the center would send its rapid
response team and surface boats to the scene.
   He explained the team would attach floats to the gear in which the
whale was entangled and let the animal swim until it becomes exhausted
and stops. Rescuers would then try to remove the nets.