He recalled a whale in a similar predicament on the East Coast, nicknamed "Long John Silver" after the peg-legged pirate, who was seen a year later with a calf; they shortened the name to "Silver" to reflect that the whale was female. While the whale can survive, the tail is the major source of speed and maneuverability, the "engine in the back," said Lyman, and it could impact the whale's ability to catch food.
A humpback whale without half of its tail was spotted from a helicopter about 1,500 feet above the Makena Beach area Saturday afternoon. Ed Lyman, large whale entanglement response coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said that the whale could have of lost part of its tail in a boat collision or from an entanglement. There is no bony structure in the tail and smaller gauge line cuts pretty easily, he said. The tail will not grow back, but “I have seen whales definitely survive that,” Lyman said.
JESSICA BODNER photo