A 30-foot humpback whale that became entangled in fishing gear off the coast of Hull was rescued by a crew from the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team at the Center for Coastal Studies on Sunday, Sept. 25.
According to the center, recreational fishermen found the whale east of Hull and reported it to the Coast Guard. The whale was able to swim, despite hundreds of feet of rope attached to it, and dove deep enough into the water that the surface crews lost sight of the whale before the CCS team arrived. A boater later found the humpback four miles southeast of the original sighting.
The entanglement team determined that the whale had bitten on the buoy line of fishing gear and the ropes had twisted around its head and tail. Using a grappling hook thrown into the entangled gear and working from a small, inflatable boat, the CCS crew added floats to the gear to mark the whale during its dives and slow its swimming.
Eventually, the team got close enough to reach out with a knife at the end of a 30-foot pole and made a single cut to the ropes. Within minutes, the gear fell loose and the whale swam away.
Since 1984, the Center for Coastal Studies has freed more than 200 large whales and other marine animals from life threatening entanglements using techniques developed by center staff. The Center for Coastal Studies is federally-authorized to perform large whale disentanglement under the authority of a permit issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service.