Outposts

Outdoors, action, adventure

« Previous Post | Outposts Home | Next Post »

Humpback whale remains entangled, but with less rope, off Maui

December 3, 2009 |  9:10 am

A young humpback whale, pictured on Tuesday, is being tracked by experts after becoming entangled in up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope off Maui.

Humpback whales that migrate into Hawaiian waters for the winter support a thriving whale-watching industry, but it seems that every season there's a heart-wrenching tale involving a whale -- or multiple whales -- paying the price for so much human activity around the islands.

This usually involves vessel strikes; there are a few each season, sometimes even involving whale-watching vessels. But there also are occasional entanglements, including one that currently has a young whale in dire straights but under close watch between Maui and Molokai.

It involves a 30- to 35-foot humpback, believed to be 2 to 5 years old, discovered Tuesday wrapped with up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope, part of which is still in the whale's mouth, making the situation life-threatening. The entangled whale was spotted by the crew of a whale-watching vessel, Ocean Explorer of the Pacific Whale Foundation.

A team with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Tuesday fixed a transmitter to the rope for tracking purposes. Attempts to free the whale failed Tuesday because of rough conditions and on Wednesday the tracking device came off the whale with a clump of rope, Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the sanctuary, told Outposts.

The good news, Lyman added, is that the whale was relocated and another transmitter package was placed on the mammal, and it appeared to be trailing significantly less line than before, thanks to grapple efforts during the previous rescue attempt.

The bad news was that the line was still wrapped around the whale's head. Another attempt to free the whale will occur today, conditions permitting.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A young humpback whale, pictured on Tuesday, is being tracked by experts after becoming entangled in up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope off Maui. Credit: Associated Press

Comments 

Advertisement










Video