SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Large Whale Entanglement Response Team, the Marine Mammal Center and Cascadia Research Collective freed an adult humpback whale that became entangled in commercial crab gear and weather buoy mooring approximately 40 miles off Point Reyes on July 10.
Cascadia Research Collective crewmembers spotted the distressed whale at approximately 5 p.m. on July 9 and contacted NOAA Fisheries stranding coordinator reporting it was in poor condition with multiple lines wrapped around the whale and the weather buoy mooring.
NOAA requested assistance from Coast Guard Sector San Francisco who dispatched a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Golden Gate and transported members from NOAA and the Marine Mammal Center to the reported location of the distressed whale.
Once on scene, the boatcrew provided a safety and communications platform and transferred the NOAA and Marine Mammal Center members to the Cascadia Research Collective vessel.
After several hours of working to free the entangled whale, the whale was cut free from the weather buoy mooring and swam away.
“This entangled whale was very far offshore and provided many challenges to the team,” said Justin Viezbicke, NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal stranding coordinator. “We simply could not have freed this whale if it hadn’t been for the Coast Guard’s assistance in providing long-range transportation and the trained volunteers who dropped everything to respond to this event.”
NOAA is investigating the entanglement.
The Coast Guard and NOAA are asking the public to report entangled whales by calling 1-877-SOS-WHALE (767-9425).