Humpback whale disentangled

A male humpback whale with small-gauge line wrapped around its tail was totally freed on Monday, following the efforts of multiple agencies and organizations, according to a news release from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

On Friday, the tour vessel Man-of-War reported the entangled whale off Lahaina. The line with several wraps around the animal was already cutting into the whale, making the situation life-threatening, the sanctuary said.

A response team was launched and removed some of the line, including about 40 feet of trailing line. A satellite tag buoy was attached to the animal and, on Monday, the whale was relocated between Kahoolawe and Lanai. All the entangling gear was removed.

The effort was led by the sanctuary, working closely with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. Many other people and organizations joined in the effort, working under NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, including the U.S. Coast Guard; NOAA Corps; Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission; West Maui Rapid Response team; MacGillivray Freeman Films, which is currently doing a film on humpback whales; researchers; and several tour and charter boat companies.

Only three humpback whales have been reported and confirmed entangled this season – a third of what is typically reported by this time of the season. Monday’s effort represents the first successful response of the 2012-13 whale season, the sanctuary said.