Rescuers to try to free whale


POSTED: Thursday, December 03, 2009

Marine experts will try again today to free a young humpback whale entangled in hundreds of feet of heavy rope off Maui.

Capt. Carlos Cardenas, with the Pacific Whale Foundation, found the whale a second time yesterday after a location transmitter attached to the rope on Tuesday apparently came off.

“;The entanglement is life-threatening,”; said Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “;It's in the mouth and it's over the body. It's yellow, polypropylene line, pretty heavy gauge, and it's several hundred feet of line on the animal.”;

Lyman estimated the whale was tangled in 400 to 500 feet of rope that trailed in two long knotted strands. He estimated the whale is between 2 and 5 years old, and about 30 to 35 feet long.

The effort to save the whale began Tuesday after Cardenas, who was captain of a whale-watching boat, found the entangled mammal about three miles off Maui. Cardenas called whale rescue experts and kept his vessel in the area until rescuers arrived.

A Coast Guard helicopter also helped monitor the whale.

That day, marine experts attached a location transmitter after earlier rescue efforts failed because of rough water in the channel between Maui and Molokai, Lyman said.

About 3:20 p.m. yesterday, Cardenas was captaining a whale-watching tour six miles from the location where the whale was first spotted, when whales surfaced. “;Sure enough, it was our little guy who was tangled,”; Cardenas said.

Two other whales were still with the juvenile whale, he said, adding that passengers watched as rescuers attached a second transponder to the rope.

He said the weather was “;beautiful”; and the ocean was “;flat like a lake.”;

Boaters are cautioned not to get too close, especially behind the tangled animal, because in the past boaters have gotten their propellers caught in ropes.