The whale dragging fishing line behind was spotted on Sunday by a crew doing aerial surveys for the Navy offshore near Jacksonville, Florida.
Though the rope was successfully removed but some of the heavy rope had to be left tangled in the whale’s mouth, officials said Thursday.
Entanglement in commercial fishing gear and collisions with ships off the East Coast threaten the whale’s survival.
Experts estimate only about 450 right whales remain in the wild, and each winter they drift to the warmer waters off Georgia and Florida to deliver their calves.
The entangled whale spotted was a four-year-old male, which team members said is not surprising despite a misconception that only pregnant females and their babies migrate south at wintertime.
Ssince 2011, it was the first time that a right whale, noosed in fishing gear has been spotted offshore in the Southeast of the U.S. , said Clay Georgia, a marine mammal biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who was part of the team that helped the whale. The team used a grappling hook outfitted with cutting blades.
“We feel like what we did gives the whale a fighting chance to shed the remainder of the rope on its own,” said George, who estimated the whale is still dragging about 20 feet of the rope woven with lead weights. “The real take-home message here is we can’t just go out and save and fix every whale that shows up entangled. In some cases it’s just completely impossible to disentangle that whale.”
The entangled whale was a four-year-old male, which according to the team members is not astounding regardless of a delusion that at wintertime only pregnant females and their babies migrate south.
The whale was about 40 miles offshore of Darien, Georgia, when the Georgia DNR was able to contrive a small boat close enough to cut away most of the remnants.