Whale of a problem off Maui


POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LIHUE » An adult humpback whale, believed to be a female more than 43 feet long, was spotted Saturday entangled in fishing line near popular snorkeling spot Coral Gardens in west Maui, federal marine officials said yesterday.

  ;[Preview]    Scientists Assist Entangled Whale Off Maui

It's believed to be the first whale rescue of the season. 12/16/08


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A team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “;got lucky”; and was able to cut about 100 feet of rope off the whale on trips to the area Saturday and Sunday, said Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager of the NOAA Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

The whale remains entangled with inch-thick rope around either its mouth or right flipper, Lyman added, and officials are hoping the whale will return to calm waters in the area to allow them to finish their work.

The whale, in a pod of three, was spotted by a kayaker mid-morning Saturday, and Lyman also spotted the pod off Coral Gardens.

It was still there when their vessel arrived in the area at about 4 p.m. Saturday and remained there until Sunday, which is rare, Lyman added.

The entanglement “;could be life-threatening ... but we do have time,”; he added.

It can take up to a year for an entanglement to kill a humpback, usually by starvation due to a lack of mobility.

NOAA officials receive about 40 to 45 calls a year about humpbacks entangled in fishing gear, Lyman added. On average, about eight are found and treated.

Anyone who finds a whale in trouble should call the hot line at (888) 256-9840.