A Whale of A Job: Freeing Entangled Whales
Entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris is a serious threat to many marine animals, including large whales like the humpback whale. While there is no easy remedy, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, working with its partner agencies and a volunteer network, took the initiative to establish and coordinate a Whale Entanglement Response Network, using techniques developed in the Northeastern U.S., including Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
This community-based network, comprised of a collaboration between state and federal agencies, local whale researchers, the tour industry, fishermen, and private citizens was established in 2002 to perform the difficult task of safely freeing endangered humpback whales and other marine animals from life threatening entanglements. More importantly, valuable information that will reduce the threat of entanglement in the future is gathered in the process. Sanctuary staff are now recognized experts in disentangling large whales, providing trainings on techniques, and participating in workshops and conferences globally.