Last week, a young grey whale was rescued off the west coast of Vancouver Island after being terribly tangled in ropes and other fishing gear.
The whale was first spotted by a biologist in Washington State. And though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put a large buoy and VHF transmitter on the trailing gear, the was lost in the fog.
Three days later, it was found in Canadian waters at Nitinat Narrows, which is off the west coast of British Columbia’s Pacific Rim National Park.
According to reports, the ropes were wrapped around the base of the whale’s tail so tightly that they had cut through its blubber.
Paul Cottrell, a Pacific marine mammal coordinator for the department of Fisheries and Oceans, specializes in whale disentanglement. He took a float plane to meet the Parks Canada staff who were parked next to the whale in an inflatable boat. Luckily, Cottrel was able to cut the ropes with a knife, which was attached to a stainless steel pole so he could keep his distance.
The rescue wasn’t a quick or easy job (it took Cottrel an hour to release it), but the laborious process was worth it.
Once the young whale was free from all of the gear, it started heading south toward U.S. waters, where it was first found.
“I think that now it’s clear … its long-term prognosis is excellent,” Cottrel told The Vancouver Sun. “It should do very well.”
If you ever spot marine mammals in distress, you’re encouraged to call the B.C. Marine Mammal Response Network at 1-800-465-4336.