On Saturday a crew managed to save an entangled humpback whale from a great white shark. The team from the Center for Coastal Studies was off the coast of Massachusetts analyzing humpback whales when they discovered a humpback whale that was entangled in a rope unable to swim. Moreover a great white shark was circling the whale and had already bitten the whale a few times.
The rope was wrapped several times around the tail of the whale and it was also lodged in its mouth. The whale was very exposed and vulnerable in front of the shark. It seems that before the Marine Animal Entanglement Response crew from the Center for Coastal Studies arrived at the scene the whale was pretty badly injured on its left flank. The shark that attacked it was 15-foot-long.
When they discovered the whale the research team was studying the gases which humpback whales exhale. The whale was quite young and it was discovered on Stellwagen Bank which is a popular place where whales come to feed. It is five miles north of Provincetown.
Dr. Jooke Robbins, director of Humpback Whale Research at the Center for Coastal Studies said that when she first saw the whale floating with its back at the surface she thought that it was just resting. She also remarked:
“I have only seen a shark attack a live whale once before, and that was a separated calf in Hawaii. I have never seen it before here. They are most likely to target incapacitated whales [as in this case], sick individuals and otherwise vulnerable animals. Because of the entanglement, the whale was unable to move normally, and was likely quite limited as to how it could thwart the shark.”
Because the shark was still around the whale the rescue team had to work from the board of their 35-foot-long boat in order to cut the rope from the mouth of the animal. After they cut the rope the humpback still had rope around its tail.
When the shark went away the crew got into a rubber dinghy and used a hook-shaped knife placed at the end of a long pole in order to cut away the rest of the rope and the whale was finally free to go.
Image Source: amosphotography.com