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Whale Entanglement Team


Whale Entanglement Hotline: (877) SOS-WHALE (767-9425)


The Whale Entanglement Team (WET)® saving whales one at a time.

These are living, breathing animals that are suffering.


Click here to watch Whale Entanglement Team video.

Click here to read article about the WET®.


Free Event - Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 3:00 PM, during Whalefest Monterey, Peggy Stap, Co-Founder of the Whale Entanglement Team (WET)® and Executive Director of Marine Life Studies, will be giving a presentation at the Wharf Theatre on Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. The theatre is at the end of Old Fisherman's Wharf across from Princess Monterey Whale Watching. Peggy Stap's presentation:

"Saving Whales from Life-threatening Entanglements" - Learn new updates of whales entangled in 2017 and changes to help mitigate entanglements. The number of entangled whales reported in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and statewide has increased significantly. WET® was founded by Peggy Stap along with Mary Whitney, Founding Director of Fluke Foundation. Learn how this highly trained team uses specialized equipment to rescue whales from a slow, painful death due to life-threatening entanglements as Stap chronicles some recent rescues. The work is conducted under the authority of the Endangered Species Act/Marine Mammal Protection Act permit issued to the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.


Click here for full program of speakers at the Symposium during Whalefest Monterey held Saturday, January 27th and Sunday, January 28th 




Marine Life Studies' Whale Entanglement Team (WET)® is an integral part of saving whales in NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. WET® provides skilled expertise, tools, data collection, a support vessel and other assets to help save and disentangle whales from fishing gear. We are indebted to this team of dedicated volunteers for all of their efforts to free whales, and thank them for their valuable service.

        - Paul Michel, Superintendent of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary



Click here for story
about entangled humpback whale calf Thanksgiving weekend, 11/25/17.


You can help save whales from
life-threatening entanglements!



About WET®:

WET® is a group of unpaid professionals (volunteers) assembled and trained for the purpose of supporting large whale entanglement response. All work is directed under the authority of NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. WET® was founded by Peggy Stap, Executive Director of Marine Life Studies and Mary Whitney, Founder of Fluke Foundation.


Accomplishments of Marine Life Studies include: the initial team assembly, 877-SOS-WHALE phone number, printed response cards, printed marine mammal guides, a complete tool cache for Monterey Bay, additional tools for San Francisco, a response boat, a trailer, Wet on Wheels, that can carry all equipment including a roll-up hypalon boat with motor, and in 2015 Marine Life Studies acquired the new Whale Rescue Research Vessel, fully equipped for rapid whale rescue response located in Moss Landing, center of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Click here for story about WET's role in the rescue of an entangled humback in 2017 in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


ALERT: Entangled Gray Whale

Gray whale entangled in a metal frame was first sighted off of Dana Point on 4/1/17 is heading up the coast. If you see this whale immediately call the NOAA Entangled Whale Hotline 1-877-SOS-WHALE or hail the USCG on VHF CH-16. 

If you see this whale, DO NOT approach or try to disentangle it. DO stay with it: take photos and video, and note the location of the whale, the travel direction, whether it is solitary or with others, and its behavior (whether it is surfacing or diving, and the length of dive times) - immediately call 1-877-SOS-WHALE (767-9425), NOAA's Entangled Whale Hotline, or hail USCG on VHF CH 16.

As of September 2017 this gray whale was never re-sighted again since April 10th. We may have a chance at a re-sight when it makes its way back down the coast during its southern migration.

Click here to see 4/14/17 update of gray whale entangled in metal frame 



ALERT: Entangled gray whale first sighted off of Dana Point on 3/19/17 is heading up the coast towards Monterey Bay. This gray whale, estimated on the rate of travel, could be in Monterey Bay late today 3/26/17 or tomorrow 3/27/17. If the rate of travel has slowed due to rough seas off the coast it could be in the area on 3/28/17. The local whale watching and fishing community has been notified. We hope to get a resight of this animal. WET® is on alert and ready to respond. If sighted please call 877-SOS-WHALE (877-767-9425) or hail USCG on VHF CH-16. 

Click here to read story
about this gray whale spotted in Southern California entangled with pink gillnet with green lines and black floats. Photo left courtesy of Frank Brennan/Dana Wharf Whale Watch.

Of the 71 reported whale entanglement cases in 2016, 66 were reported off California. A total of 48 of the 71 cases were confirmed via the documentation submitted, follow-up sightings, and entanglement response information provided to NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. 

Of the 48 confirmed cases in 2016, there were 24 confirmed reports in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is three more than in 2015. That means half of the confirmed entanglements happened right in our backyard.



Whale disentanglement featured on the PBS and BBC BIG BLUE LIVE, August 2015.
Click here to check out the action in this BBC clip from the program.


Click here for story about WET’s role in the rescue of the entangled humpback whale on May 10, 2016 off Pt. Lobos.

Click here for story about WET’s role in the rescue of the entangled humpback whale on April 21, 2016 off the Big Sur coastline.

Click here for story about how male orca became entangled in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on April 5, 2016.












Click to watch Whale Entanglement Team video
created by CSUMB student, Stephanie Marcos, in May 2015.

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® needs your help to save these whales from a slow, painful death.

Read and watch video about 4-day rescue over Fourth of July, 2015:  Entangled humpback freed near Farrallon Islands

We have outgrown our 19’ boat. A larger vessel was needed that could accommodate all of Marine Life Studies' programs, including WET
®, and the Albin 40' North Sea Cutter was the best fit. The Albin can hold all the equipment that we need for a complete response when there is a report of an entangled whale in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


We got the larger vessel, a 2006 40-foot Albin North Sea Cutter, here just in the nick of time.

We arrived with the Albin at the Moss Landing Harbor on June 12th in the evening and received a call by noon on June 14th to mount a response as there was an entangled whale reported in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Additionally, there were 2 whales in July disentangled, made possible because of the Albin, Marine Life Studies' Whale Rescue Research Vessel, being first on scene. We had to travel such a long distance for the responses that our 19' Donzi would not of gone the distance as it had a very limited range.


We are proud that our Whale Rescue Research Vessel was crucial in the successful disentanglement of the humpback whales in July by being first on the scene. It was worth the debt of $60,000. Thanks to many generous donations in 2016, the amount owed is reduced to $50,164. We still need your help to pay it off and help to purchase new equipment needed for WET®.  All funds go directly to support the Whale Entanglement Team.

                                        Consider setting up an automatic monthly recurring donation.        


Click here to read: For whale rescues, Moss Landing team needs bigger boat

Moss Landing team eying a 40-foot Albin that can carry all the equipment needed to rescue a whale from a life-threatening entanglement. Marine Life Studies has secured two anonymous donors who will match donations up to $150,000. Stap is asking the public to chip in the rest. "No donation is too small," Stap said. "Everyone can help save whales." 

The number of entangled whales significantly increased in 2015.

The number of reported entanglements has significantly increased in central California over the last couple years. The larger, more capable vessel enables us to carry all the equipment needed for a full response on board at all times. This has greatly reduced our response time, enabling more whales the chance to be rescued from life-threatening entanglements. In 2015 there were 25 confirmed entanglement reports with 21 of them here in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 


Click here to read article about WET®!


How you can help!

Prompt reporting is the best way to help the distressed animal. Standing by until responders can arrive is vital. Standing by is so important to keep track of the animal. It is a big ocean out there and without someone standing by to help direct responders the chances of saving that whale is greatly reduced. If not able to standby, it is so valuable to get the exact location (latitude and longitude if possible), direction of travel, and description of gear (color of buoys, etc.). If possible take photos and/or video of the animal but please do not approach to animal - stay at least 100 to 150 yards away.

Ocean users play an important role in efforts to save whales in distress from pain, deformity, and death. Please report injured, entangled, and ship-struck whale concerns to the 24/7 hotline at (877) SOS-WHALE (767-9425) or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH-16.

Support WET® - Donate Today! 
Immediate needs:

      • Funds for fuel - Whale Rescue is Costly!
      • Dual Garmin 1040xs with GMR18 XHD Radar Dome and Transducer 
      • 4 GoPro cameras, flash cards and additional batteries
      • 6-Element Directional handheld antennae
      • One Mac Book Pro Laptop Computer with solid state hard drive
      • 2 - 4TB portable hard drives
      • Person Protective Equipment for crew: Mustang floatation suits,
         ACR Relink personal locator beacons, Gumby survival suits
     • Still need to raise $50,164 toward loan for the Whale Rescue
         Research Vessel for Central California
      • Fixed RDF Antennae with RDF Wideband Radio Direction Finding
         Receiver (to pick up VHF signal of GPS/Argos telemetry  



We need to be a safe distance from the whales while working, and the lighter, rigid, carbon fiber poles allow us to keep that distance and effectively use the tools. GoPro cameras are essential in the analysis of the entanglement so we can view the whale and the nature of the entanglement above and below the water before deciding the best method in removing the entanglement.

Fuel funds for responding boats come out of team members' personal contributions. 


Whale Entanglement Team (WET)® Disentangles Humpback Whale on October 29, 2014 in Monterey Bay. Click here for the full story.


8/28/14 Entangled Humpback Whale in Monterey Bay - Blue Ocean Whale Watch identifies entangled whale and the Whale Entanglement Team is ready to respond. Click here to full story.


Happy Ending – Humpback whale disentangled May in Santa Barbara re-sighted in Monterey Bay 7/5/14.  Click here for full story.


May 14, 2014:  WET® successfully disentangled a humpback whale.
A humpback whale entangled in crab fishing gear and struggling to swim was spotted by a whale watch boat in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary around noon on Sunday, April 27. What followed over the next two-and-one-half weeks was an extraordinary rescue effort by trained responders of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program along the Central California Coast. Click here for full story.

May 1, 2014:  Another entangled whale in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
On May 1, 2014, a second humpback whale was spotted entangled in crab pot gear in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Click here for full story.





Amber_WET_PSA2012Actress and activist Amber Valletta joins the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, California, September 26 – 28, 2012 to raise awareness of entangled whales in California. Marine Life Studies and Fluke Foundation were instrumental in formalizing the Whale Entanglement Team known as WET® to disentangle whales from marine debris and fishing gear. The PSA by IFAW will air throughout California.



New Public Service Announcement by IFAW: CLICK HERE TO VIEW


All donations are tax deductible.


News Anchor Cheryl Jennings of ABC 7/KGO TV joined the Whale Entanglement Team
in November 2010.
Watch the Video.



If interested in a water-proof Response and Reporting Card card for your boat, please contact us.


W.E.T. Handout for Response and Reporting Card










  Download a pdf of the WET Response and Reporting Card


Please call (877) SOS-WHALE immediately to report an entangled whale, dolphin or other marine mammal.

120418_Er_entangle_up 120418_Er_entangle_down




Marine Life Studies coordinated a hands-on water training for WET® in December.


Cheryl McCormick, Executive Director of the American Cetacean Society (ACS), joined us.


The article about WET® is now available on page 5. 


 PDF file 12 pages "Spyhopper, ACS Newsletter









Some photos taken under the NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) permit #932-1905.



Make a Whale Smile Campaign


Whale Rescue Research Vessel

for Central California


To donate by check please make payable to Marine Life Studies with WET® on the memo line and send to: PO Box 163, Moss Landing, CA 95039