IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND, PLEASE REPORT WHALE ENTANGLEMENTS TO 1-800-900-3622
Basking shark freed in Provincetown Harbor - 7/11/04
Schematic of entanglement
A lobster fisherman working in Provincetown Harbor reported a large animal caught in his lobster set today, 7/11/04. The fisherman stood by the animal while the PCCS team gathered gear and made their way out to the site. After a relatively short struggle the team managed to fully disentangle a 10-12-foot basking shark.
The animal was caught in a buoy line, near the surface, that lead to two lobster traps resting on the seafloor. The buoy line was wrapped around the head and lower jaw (indicating that the animal was likely entangled as it fed on plankton by swimming with the mouth agape). The leading edges of the dorsal fin and and tail had pink abrassions but the animal appeared to be healthy otherwise.
The team used a grappling hook and tether to gain access to the lobster buoy and gear that the shark continually pulled down. Using buoys and the drag of the boat, the team was able to keep the animal at the surface long enough to cut the entangling lines, leaving a short (1m) length of line in the mouth that would likely be shed at the next feeding bout. While not a whale, this shark species is poorly understood and the disentanglement was a good opportunity to gather more information.