Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

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      Friday, July 08, 2011

    PCCS Contact:
    Tanya Grady

    Team Saves Two
    Endangered Sea Turtle and Whale Rescued!

    PCCS image. Taken under NOAA CFR 222.310,
    with authority of the ESA.
    (PROVINCETOWN, MASS) - A team with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies freed two endangered marine animals from entanglement on Thursday.

    A recreational boater off Sesuit harbor (Dennis) reported an entangled leatherback turtle Thursday afternoon. The Marine Animal Entanglement team was immediately dispatched from Provincetown Harbor to evaluate the animal. Once on scene the team was able to free the 700 pound leather back turtle from the entanglement.

    As the team was returning from the turtle response, they received another report of an entangled animal. The report came from whale-watch vessels Granite State and Blue Ocean Society out of Portsmouth New Hampshire. The whale, a young humpback, was moving slowly across Jeffreys Ledge. The team headed out of Cape Cod Bay and north to the waters offshore of New Hampshire. Once on scene, they found the whale suffering from a long-term entanglement.

    The whale, known as the 2009 calf of Lavalier, was last seen entangled on June 30th, but the response team was unable to re-locate the whale until Thursday, when the team freed the animal from the entanglement.

    The PCCS Humpback Whale Studies Program studies the Gulf of Maine humpback whale population and the impacts that result from human activities. Photographic identification data was taken on the scene and will be analyzed by the Humpback Studies Program at PCCS. The program has monitored the frequency of humpback whale entanglements off New England based on the injuries that entanglements produce. Of the approximately 900 whales in the Gulf of Maine humpback whale population, more than half have experienced an entanglement in their lifetime and 8-25 percent acquires new entanglement scars annually.

    The PCCS disentanglement team is thankful for the help of Blue Ocean Society and Granite State Whale Watch for their support in this operation. Whale watch naturalists are urged to document the condition of the whale if seen again. If you spot any entangled marine animal in Southern New England, please call 1800-900-3622.

    PCCS disentanglement work is supported by a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF). Support for the Marine Animal Response Team also comes from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and contributions from PCCS members. All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NMFS.

    The four person team that worked on both the turtle and whale yesterday included, Brian Sharp. He has been saving marine animals for over seven years as response operations manager at PCCS. During his years of work with PCCS, Brian has freed many marine mammals and sea turtles from life threatening entanglement and without his assistance many animals may have suffered a horrible fate. He will be greatly missed as he moves on to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, to help coordinate stranding response.

    # # #

    The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976, dedicated to preserving coastal and marine ecosystems and providing educational activities which promote stewardship of our oceans. PCCS is celebrating its 35th anniversary! To learn more about our work and 35th anniversary events, click here.

    Right whale images taken under NOAA Fisheries permit 633-1763, under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts - please request PCCS permission for use.

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