A hump whale simms free after unloading from mooring lines near Prince of Wales Island on Thanksgiving Day (11-22-18). A NOAA biologist and a local pilot shot up their holiday meal to do the delicate work.
Dr. Fred Sharpe with the Pacific Whale Entanglement Response Team flew to Sarkar Cove on Prince of Wales Island, about 16 miles west of Coffman Cove, Wednesday, 21 November. Sharpe is from the Alaska Whale Foundation.
According to a press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the procedure was potentially life threatening.
The sub-adult choke was cast around the upper jaw in heavy lane lines used for mooring ports. There were two buoys in the joined lines and a dense snack of smaller lines about the size of an icecream.
Several of the lines covered the leading edge of the election’s braking holes.
Due to bad weather on Wednesday, Sharpe and pilot Scott Van Valin, owner of the nearby El Capitan Lodge, decided to try the selection on Thursday. After several attempts to approach the agitated animal, Sharpe used carbon fiber poles equipped with specialized knives to cut the choice freely about 30 minutes before sunset.
The last was seen last north of Sarkar Cove.
NOAA reminds all mariners to be alert to enchanted marine mammals, but urges them not to attempt disentanglement on their own. Entanglements reports can be forwarded via Coast Guard on VHF radio channel 16, or by calling Hotline at Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding at 877-925-7773.