A humpback whale entangled in a mess of buoys and fishing line for several days was successfully freed in one of the most “challenging” and “complex” disentanglements rescue teams and whale experts say they’ve ever faced.On Monday, recreational boaters found a humpback whale anchored to the sea floor, with the entanglement holding its tail down and making it difficult for the animal to reach the surface to breathe off the coast of NYC in the Ambrose Channel. They alerted the Coast Guard, which contacted NOAA Fisheries.”That whale was fighting to live,” Scott Landry, the director of Marine Animal Entanglement Response at Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), said in a statement about the days-long effort. “Without intervention that whale would not have survived. While it’s not entirely out of the woods yet, [its] prospects are now 100 percent better than what they were.”
Landry added it was “among the more challenging” cases they’ve dealt with at the CCS, based out of Provincetown, Massachusetts.The first two days, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) and the Department of Environmental Conservation collected photos and information to create a rescue plan with NOAA and CCS. The team removed buoys and cut through pieces of the entanglement by Wednesday afternoon that were attached to the whale’s tail. About a day later, the final cuts were made to release the whale, which had suffered cuts all over its body and deep cuts on its tail, according to NOAA Fisheries.”We are optimistic we will see the whale again and like the majority of humpback whales off our coast it will bear the scars of entanglement,” Landry said.The chief scientist at AMSEAS, Rob DiGiovanni, added: “Whale response in NY has been increasingly complex over the years, and this event was an especially challenging one.”Last month, NYPD harbor crew spotted another humpback whale off the coast of Staten Island.
Another was seen off Rockaway Beach flying in and out of the ocean was surfers watched from the shoreline.Whale sightings around NYC have exploded in recent years too—thanks to cleaner waters that help a fish called menhaden, which humpback whales feed on. But as the whales proliferate in our busy waters, more are getting injured or killed by boat strikes, fishing line entanglements, and strandings.The public can report injured or entangled whales to 631-369-9829 for the New York State Stranding hotline. For Maine through Virginia, call NOAA’s hotline at 866-755-6622.