Entangled whale freed at sea

Wednesday, May 20 2009 @ 07:05 PM EDT

Contributed by: jkr


Humpback gets rare reprieve as marine mammal expert nearby


By Lindsay Kines, Times ColonistMay 20, 2009


Whales don't catch many breaks these days. They face a threatened food supply, pesky boat traffic, and the build-up of PCBs and other toxins in their bodies.

So it's worth noting that one whale received a rare reprieve this week after getting entangled in another man-made hazard -- prawn traps in Knight Inlet just east of Port McNeill.

By chance, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans official with training in how to disentangle whales from nets and other gear happened to be just 45 minutes away.

Paul Cottrell, the department's acting marine mammal co-ordinator, was in Robson Bight, ensuring there were no whales around as salvage crews tried to recover a sunken fuel truck with 10,000 litres of diesel aboard.

"It's incredible we were on the water, we had the expertise there," he said. "So it was a little bit fortuitous."

Cottrell said a fisherman called Monday to report a whale in distress, so the marine mammal expert zipped over to the remote inlet along with fisheries officers, the crew of the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Sooke Post, and members of the Cetus Research and Conservation Society's Straitwatch program. Once there, the rescuers found an entangled juvenile humpback whale, which is a threatened species in Canada.

Read more:  http://www.timescolonist.com/Technology/Entangled+whale+freed+near+Port+McNeill/1611937/story.html

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