A humpback whale snarled in heavy-gauge line was freed Friday in waters off Maui. CLICK FOR LARGE
Humpback freed and prognosis is good
LAHAINA » An entangled humpback whale that was freed Friday in waters off Maui has a good chance of surviving, officials said.
Teams had to remove about 150 feet of heavy-gauge line that ran through the whale's mouth and around its body. The entanglement was clearly affecting the whale, said Ed Lyman, of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
The rescue was the seventh this season and the third in as many weeks.
Lyman said the 38-feet whale appeared to still be strong enough to get back to its Alaska feeding grounds.
"This guy has a good chance. That's not been the case with several of the whales we've handled earlier this year," he said.
Rescuers worked to free a humpback whale snarled in heavy-gauge line Friday. CLICK FOR LARGE
The rope wound across the back of the whale towards the tail "like the twist tie of a bread wrapper," Lyman said. "It was chafing hard on the back. Even with the nasty wound, It will heal. I've seen worse."
The entangled whale was first reported to the Coast Guard by the crew of a whale-watch vessel, the Lanakila, of Safari Boat Excursions.
Lyman said a transmitter wasn't placed on the whale because it "already took a hit from the entanglement" and the team wanted it to be totally free.
However, he said pictures were taken of the animal before and after the rope was removed to get a "fingerprint" so it can be tracked. The pictures will be sent to whale researchers, especially on Maui and in Alaska, he said.
"It's a long shot but we've had several cases where we got word back that a whale was doing well."
The rope was collected and will be studied as part of the continuing process of determining what kinds of debris are entangling whales and how such problems might be prevented.
Last week, teams freed a young whale off Lanai, removing several hundred feet of line.