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    Latest Disentanglement


    Two entangled right whales have been sighted off the Carolinas in recent weeks, one of which, a young animal identified as #3120, has been entangled for almost two years. The other animal is presumed to be a right whale carrying a long length of rope and some buoys, but despite searches its status remains unconfirmed.


     The right side of the head of 3120 as he swims at the surface, mouth open

    Right whale 3120 was first reported as entangled on April 7, 2002 by a whale watch vessel off Cape Fear, North Carolina. Unfortunately the vessel could not stand by but crew were able to document the entanglement. At that time this whale was a yearling and had multiple wraps of line around the upper jaw that lead to a tight wrap of line at the tail (other possible entanglement points could not be confirmed). The animal was resighted on a number of occasions throughout the summer of 2002 in both US and Canadian waters and in August disentanglement responders were able to affix a telemetry buoy to the lines wrapped around the tail of the whale. Unfortunately, the buoy came free during a disentanglement attempt that managed to free the lines at the tail. The whale’s condition appeared to be deteriorating and the lines around the head continued to tighten – young whales especially face the problem of “growing in” to gear as they increase in body size.

    In 2003 he was sighted on a few occasions and his apparent health condition fluctuated between sightings. These sightings, often too far offshore or late in the day, presented disentanglement responders with few opportunities.

    In the fall of 2004, he was sighted east of Nova Scotia by researchers from the New England Aquarium. Their assessment noted that wounds at his blowholes had worsened and that his left flipper, as seen through the water, was almost entirely white, confirming that the lines at the left side of the head lead to tight wraps at the base of that flipper. Disentanglement attempts at that time may have cut one line at the head but the remaining lines continued to pose a problem.

    On December 9, 2004 he was photographed opportunistically by a town fire marshal just offshore of Nags Head, North Carolina. Photographs indicated that 3120 was swimming at the surface with mouth open, a posture usually associated with feeding (a surprising occurrence considering feeding behavior is undocumented for right whales in that region). Photographs confirm that one of the lines at the head was cut in September but the line may have grown into the blowholes.

    Future opportunistic sightings of this whale and of the other presumed right whale may shed light on their health and entanglement status.


    click here to read about previous entanglements



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