News Splash™

Whale Entanglement Team (WET) Departed Moss Landing to Entangled Whale’s Position using Satellite Telemetry on 4/21/16


Subadult humpback whale first reported late Wednesday morning, April 20th, by John Favazza of FV Okie Dokie who immediately reported the distressed whale and stayed with the whale until the response team arrived. John's efforts led to this whale being rescued.


On Wednesday, April 20th Kate Spencer, captain of Fast Raft Safaris, went out to relieve John Favazza and continued to stand by until JD Douglas, with Moss Landing Marine Labs, took Scott Benson and Karin Forney (both with NOAA) out to the whale in the ZHT rib to location where Kate was standing by with the whale. They were able to attach the telemetry buoy to the existing gear trailing behind the humpback.

Later, Pieter Folkens, with Alaska Whale Foundation, and Ryan Berger, with Point Blue Conservation, along with Scott and Karin were ferried out by Kate Spencer of Fast Raft Safaris. They were able to wrap and bundle 100' of the trailing line to shorten it and did some underwater video to assess the entanglement. It was too late to remove the gear so a response was planned for the next day. They found the whale that evening with the 3-element antenna that picks up the VHF signal from the telemetry package on the telemetry buoy. 





Click here to see video of Doug Ross locating the whale.

On Thursday, April 21st, Marine Life Studies' Whale Entanglement Team (WET) crew, aboard their Whale Rescue Research Vessel, departed Moss Landing to search for the whale which had traveled south overnight off the Big Sur coastline. The crew included Doug Ross, Nina Rosen, Steve Baltes, Peggy Stap, and Wally Smith (with the USCG Coast Guard Auxillary). We had the position from the satellite buoy but once in the area were able to relocate the whale using the 3-element antenna held by Doug Ross as seen in the photo above. We located the whale at 11:35 and stood by until the rest of the team, led by Ryan Berger, arrived on scene aboard the United States Coast Guard vessel at 12:13. Bob Talbot, of Talbot Films, joined us at 13:04 to aid with the response.

Aboard the USCG 47MLB (pictured on right) were Ryan Berger, Karin Forney, Scott Benson, Kathi Koontz, with Oceanic Society, and Donn Trenner, one of our WET
℠ volunteers. Once on scene they inflated the hypalon roll-up boat and attached the motor that was purchased through a grant that Marine Life Studies received from the International Fund of Animal Welfare. The USCG 47 MLB crew were Chris, Willard, and Joshua.

Once the inflatable was deployed the cutting crew, Ryan, Scott, and Kathi, approached the whale to do some more underwater assessment. Then they returned to our boat to view the footage and made a plan of what lines to cut to release the gear. Bob ferried Karin and Donn from the USCG 47 MLB 
to our boat.

Ryan, Scott, and Kathi boarded the hypalon roll-up boat again with the proper cutting tools to approach the whale  and make the two cuts that successfully freed the whale. Very exciting for us all to see the whale swim off free of all the entanglement gear.



 It was a great effort of so many people that made the rescue of this humpback whale possible:

  - Alaska Whale Foundation
  - Fast Raft Safaris
  - Marine Life Studies' Whale Entanglement Team (WET)
  - Moss Landing Marine Labortories
  - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
  - Oceanic Society
  - Point Blue Conservation Science
  - Talbot Films
  - United States Coast Guard
 All of the above are part of the CWR network.
 All photos are taken under NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) Permit 18786.

 The biggest thanks goes to John Favazza of FV Okie Dokie. His role was key to the whole  operation to rescue the entangled humpback.


   Click below to view more videos of the response:

     First approach with underwater video camera to make assessment. 

     First cut of the blue steel line wrapped around the whale.

     Whale free of entanglement does a tail throw.


  Additional photos below:


20160421STAPfr2211BobTalbot 20160421ROSEN_USCGSettingUpInflatable
  Bob Talbot arrives on scene to assist with whale rescue.   Crew inflating hypalon roll-up boat aboard USCG 47MLB..
20160421ROSEN_USCGLaunchInflatable 20160421TALBOTfr3701ALBIN_CUTBOAT
  Deploying hypalon roll-up boat from USCG 47MLB.   Crew on cut boat with Marine Life Studies' Whale Rescue Research Vessel in background.
20160421STAPfr2343RyanMakingCut_Knife 20160421TRENNERfr2360MnPeduncleThrow
  Ryan making final cut that releases the entanglement from whale.   Whale, free of all gear, doing a peduncle throw (tail throw).

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