Humpback whale disentangled from fishing gear off Ballston Beach

CCS image, NOAA permit #18786.

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (WPRI) – The Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) rescued a humpback whale on Tuesday after it became entangled fishing gear off Ballston Beach in Truro.

The MAER team and scientists from CCS’s Humpback Whale Studies Program were conducting a research survey when they found a whale anchored in fishing gar two miles off of Ballston Beach. The whale had two tight wraps of rope around the base of the tail, which was connected to fishing gear located on the seafloor. The whale was still able to reach the surface to breathe, even though it was entangled. according to a CCS press release.

The MAER team contacted NOAA, the permitting agency for whale disentanglement, immediately to get the go ahead to attempt disentanglement. After assessing the condition of the whale, CCS officials said the team used a hook on a 30 foot long pole to cut through the wraps of rope around the tail.

The whale swam off as soon as it was cut free from the ropes. Based on its injuries, CCS officials said the whale was likely recently entangled but had dragged one set of fishing gear into two more gear sets, eventually anchoring it to the sea floor. The whale seemed to be in good condition and is expected to recover.

If you see any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles or sharks, report it to the MAER team (1-800-900-3622) or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF 16. You should also stand by the animal at a safe distane until trained responders arrive on scene.