Workers free humpback from mass of fishing line
Officials with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary successfully removed fishing line wrapped around a humpback whale yesterday north of the Big Island.
Workers with Ocean Sports Waikoloa spotted the adult whale Tuesday morning west of the Big Island, dragging hundreds of yards of fishing gear behind it and with some wrapped around its body, said whale sanctuary manager Naomi McIntosh.
Sanctuary workers assessed the whale's situation as being life-threatening on Tuesday and attached a satellite tracking device to the gear so they could find it again, she said.
Yesterday, a team of workers with the sanctuary and the state Division of Aquatic Resources relocated the whale at about 11 a.m. and were able to remove most of the line by 3 p.m., said Ed Lyman, the sanctuary's rescue manager.
"We removed all but a little line in its mouth, which we trimmed as close as we could," Lyman said. "We significantly helped the situation and improved the animal's chances of survival."
The disentanglement of the whale was the second of the 2006-07 season. Rescue workers removed about 115 feet of line from a whale south of Maui on Jan. 11, Lyman said.