PHOTOS: Whale Successfully Disentangled from Fishing Line off of Maui
By Wendy Osher
An adult humpback whale entangled in 450 feet of fishing line was freed on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 in waters off of Māʻalaea on Maui, according to Ed Lyman, Resource Protection Manager and Whale Entanglement Response Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to information released by NOAA, at least five wraps of heavy gauge line were observed around the animal’s tailstock.
The 40-ton female humpback was first spotted with entangled line on Feb. 13, off the Hamakua coast of Hawaiʻi Island, but due to poor weather and a remote location, no immediate response was possible, agency officials said.
The whale was spotted again two days later along the leeward coast of the Big Island south of Kailua-Kona; but NOAA officials say a tagging and disentanglement effort was suspended when the animal rounded South Point.
After the whale had crossed the ʻAlenuihāhā Channel to Maui’s south shore preparations were made for an authorized response off Maui.
Crew from the Sanctuary worked with partners to cut several hundred feet of heavy line from the whale’s tail.
Each year the agency responds to reports of whales in distress due to entanglement. The first large scale response effort of the season was reported in December off of Kīhei, Maui.
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.
The latest whale disentanglement effort was coordinated by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, under authority of NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office and Office of Protected Resource. Partners include: West Hawaiʻi Marine Mammal Response Network, NOAA Corps, Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission, Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, and the West Maui Rapid Response Team.