A humpback whale was saved from certain death by a team of scientists from the Center for Coastal Studies, Provincetown.
The researchers team set out for a field study off the Massachusetts coast on Saturday. To their surprise, a humpback was readily available in the area of Stellwagen Bank. This is an usual and quite popular location with humpbacks looking to feed, at 5 miles to the north of Provincetown.
This humpback was readily available, but sadly, all tied up in ropes, from head to tail, according to statements from the Center for Coastal Studies researchers.
Adrift, the humpback whale was forced by the rope entanglement into a C-like position, preventing swimming and moving altogether.
When the team spotted the humpback whale’s dorsal fin, it also spotted the 15-foot great white shark circling it. The humpback whale must have been on the great white shark’s menu for the day, as blood was seen flowing.
Indeed, according to the Center for Coastal Studies, the great white shark wounded the humpback whale on the left flank.
The Center for Coastal Studies team set out to save the humpback whale. Doctor Jooke Robbins, the Center for Coastal Studies Humpback Whale Research commented in amazement:
“I have only see a shark attack a live whale once before, and that was a separated calf in Hawaii. I have never seen it before here. They are most likely to target incapacitated whales, sick individuals and otherwise vulnerable animals.”
The rescue team operated from a long response boat, measuring 35 feet in length and named after the first whale ever saved by the Center for Coastal Studies rescue team, Ibis. From Ibis, the rescuers stretched out to cut the rope pinning the the humpback whale’s mouth.
Once this step was completed, the humpback whale could at least move. The great white shark seemed to lose its interest and swam away. The team then had to release the whale from the rope still tangling its tail.
Using a work line, the rescue team tied a dinghy from the rope. While they were being towed, a hook-like knife attached to a long extension was used to cut the rest of the rope and set the humpback free.
Since 1984, the Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement Response team is reported to have saved more than 200 whales, turtles, porpoises and dolphins.
This humpback whale, circled by the great white shark and saved by the rescue team was the sixth to be free just during this year, out of 11 reported cases.
Sadly, 10 to 12 percent of the humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine – counting approximately 1,000 individuals – get entangled in ropes yearly.
Photo Credits cbsboston.com
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