Maui News

Whale Freed of Life-threatening Entanglement in Lahaina

April 7, 2014, 11:52 AM HST
* Updated April 7, 4:59 PM
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Underwater image Humpback whale with entanglement Courtesy of J. Moore - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Underwater image Humpback whale with entanglement
Courtesy of J. Moore – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

By Wendy Osher

Rescue workers successfully freed a humpback whale from a life-threatening entanglement in waters off of Lahaina, Maui on Sunday.

The whale, described as a sub-adult humpback, had a braided line running through its mouth, and was trailing about 120 feet of line and a pair of bouys, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Crews from the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Discovery vessel, first spotted the whale on Sunday morning, April 6, 2014, according to information released by the NOAA.

Authorities say the PWF crew, along with crews from the Ultimate Whale Watch’s Wiki Wahine, and the West Maui Rapid Response Team’s Aloha Kai vessel monitored the whale’s activity until an authorized response team aboard the Koholā vessel, arrived at the scene.

Humpback whale with entanglement Courtesy of N. Davis - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Humpback whale with entanglement
Courtesy of N. Davis – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

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“While the animal was still in good condition, the entanglement was life threatening, and would have impacted the animal’s ability to feed on its return to high-latitude feeding grounds,” said NOAA officials in a media statement.

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NOAA officials say the animal was freed of the entanglement by 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and that it is expected to make a full recovery.

The disentanglement effort was led by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sancuary, which is jointly managed by NOAA and the State of Hawaiʻi.

Officials say the sanctuary team worked with trained personnel from NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Corps, the West Maui Rapid Response Team and trained responders to carry out of the rescue.

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To report an injured or entangled marine mammal, NOAA officials advise the public to maintain the required safety distance of 100 yards and call the agency’s Marine Mammal Hotline at (888) 256-9840, or the US Coast Guard on VHF channel 16.

Responders LTJG Joseph Carrier and Nicole Davis aboard Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuaryʻs response vessel, Kohola Courtesy of E. Lyman - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Responders LTJG Joseph Carrier and Nicole Davis aboard HIHWNMSʻs response vessel, Koholā. Courtesy of E. Lyman – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Underwater image Humpback whale with entanglement Courtesy of E. Lyman - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Underwater image Humpback whale with entanglement in Lahaina, Maui. Courtesy of E. Lyman – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Jason Moore prepares to biopsy sample, while Casey Cohan gets underwater documentation using a pole camera. Courtesy of E. Lyman - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Jason Moore prepares to biopsy sample, while Casey Cohan gets underwater documentation using a pole camera. Courtesy of E. Lyman – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Casey Cohan and Ed Lyman watch as whale pulls a "kegging" buoy they have attached to the entangling gear Courtesy of N. Davis - NOAA HIHWNMS - MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

Casey Cohan and Ed Lyman watch as whale pulls a “kegging” buoy they have attached to the entangling gear. Courtesy of N. Davis – NOAA HIHWNMS – MMHSRP (permit # 932-1905)

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