Humpback Whale Disentangled October 15, 2018 - Collaborative Effort to Free Humpback Whale Entangled in Oregon Dungeness Crab Gear West of Santa Cruz, California
On Saturday, the local pilot's association put up another airplane to see if they could spot the entangled whale while teams stood by in Half Moon Bay waiting for the opportunity to respond. Cascadia Research Collective (CRC) members were on their vessel, the Musculus, when they learned about the entanglement on Friday night. They searched the area on Saturday afternoon, but did not relocate the whale. Unfortunately, since the whale was not re-sighted the teams had to stand down.
On Sunday morning, CRC members headed to the shelf edge for a 150 mile long survey with Stanford personnel. Surprisingly, the first whale they came across was the same entangled whale that was reported earlier. They stood by and waited until the Whale Entanglement Team (WET)®, from Moss Landing was able to provide assistance and an inflatable boat (their new 4.2 WING) to help document the severity of the entanglement. A local fisherman out of Half Moon Bay (HMB) volunteered his time and vessel, Aqua Hero, to help out for the day. A member of CWR later met the team to assist. The team was able to remove approximately 350 feet of the trailing line before daylight was lost, then they attached the telemetry buoy to the trailing gear to aid in relocating the whale the next day.
On Sunday night, everyone returned to Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. CRC and most of the WET® crew traveled back to Moss Landing while the WET vessel, Current'Sea, moored overnight along with their new inflatable, a 4.2 WING.
On Monday morning the WET® crew returned to Half Moon Bay and set out on Current'Sea with their inflatable in tow to relocate the entangled humpback via satellite signals from the telemetry buoy. In the meantime, a team composed of people from Cascadia Research Collective, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, The Marine Mammal Center, SR3, United States Coast Guard (USCG), and other members of NOAA’s Entanglement Response Team assembled in Santa Cruz to also go out to relocate the entangled whale. The USCG were updated throughout the day with the positions relayed by the telemetry buoy. The USCG initially located the whale and stood by until the response teams arrived and removed almost all the remaining gear.. The team was unable to remove all of the gear from the whale because of several tight wraps of line embedded deep into the peduncle. They were able to cut close to the embedded lines, hoping it will come loose as the whale begins to swim in a normal condition.
It truely was a collaborative effort to disentangle this humpback whale. NOAA Fisheries thanked all of the responders and personnel involved, including teams from Cascadia Research Collective, Marine Life Studies' Whale Entanglement Team (WET)®, The Marine Mammal Center, SR3, California Whale Rescue, United States Coast Guard, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program, and the local community and fishermen who helped to staff the response team and the stand by vessels on this event.
All whale rescues are permitted under NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program Permit No. 18786-03.