IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND, PLEASE REPORT WHALE ENTANGLEMENTS TO 1-800-900-3622
Latest Disentanglement - right whale #1167 found entangled
Update, 5/12/06: this whale was sighted twice
by the PCCS right whale aerial survey and habitat studies teams in early May,
within Cape Cod Bay. Photos from those sightings indicate that this whale may
have shed the rope that was originally seen trailing from his left flipper or
mouth (see story below). While it is unclear if any of the entanglement remains,
the whale will be monitored through opportunistic sightings like these.
On Wednesday afternoon (6/8/05), a NOAA-Fisheries aerial survey team found an entangled right whale on the Great South Channel, approximately seventy-miles east of Cape Cod. The following day an exhaustive search effort was mounted in the area, but despite numerous right whale sightings, the entangled whale was not found. It is hoped that future, opportunistic sightings will shed more light on the whales’ entanglement and allow for a disentanglement response if necessary.
Right whale #1167 takes a breath before diving. Note that the trailing rope heads toward the left flipper or mouth. NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service image under permit 775-1600-08, under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts - please request PCCS permission for use
The entanglement consists of a long length of rope attached to either the left flipper or the mouth. The whale was sighted within a large group of right whales and appeared to be swimming normally.
Yesterdays search aimed to find the animal and remove any life threatening rope or to attach a telemetry buoy to the trailing rope for tracking and assessment. Despite the dedicated effort of two NOAA-Fisheries aerial survey teams, the PCCS research vessel Ibis II and the New England Aquarium R/V Galatea, the animal was not re-sighted. Between all teams, an estimated fifty individual right whales were assessed for entanglements within a relatively concentrated area east of Cape Cod.
Aerial photographs taken by the NOAA-Fisheries team on Wednesday were used by NEAq to identify the whale as #1167, an adult male that was last seen in the spring of 2003. This whale was previously documented as entangled in 2000. At that time PCCS mounted a disentanglement attempt and managed to attach a telemetry buoy to trailing rope but the buoy detached shortly afterward. The nature of that entanglement was unclear and it is unclear if the most recent sighting of #1167 represents a new or past entanglement (multiple entanglements of individual whales are not uncommon). Due to the sporadic nature of sighting events for this animal, assessments of its entanglement history are necessarily vague.
The offshore weather is unfavorable for the next several days and no further dedicated searches for #1167 are planned at this time. However, the disentanglement team remains prepared to respond to any confirmed reports within range.