Whale entangled in Bay of
BY Alison Auld
June 1 0 , 2 0 0 2
HALIFAX - An
endangered North Atlantic right whale was entangled in a mess of fishing gear
off the Nova Scotia coast just as many of the mammals were beginning their
annual trek into Canadian waters.
The whale was thought
to be somewhere off Briar Island, struggling in a tangle of what was believed
to be fishing line, with an orange buoy cinched around its tail.
It wasn't clear Tuesday where the massive mammal
travelled to after it moved quickly away from a throng of whale-watching
vessels that spotted it on the weekend.
who surveys whales in the Bay of Fundy, saw the animal Saturday after being
alerted to it by a tour operator. She said the whale appeared to not be a
mature adult and was on its own.
"The gear was wrapped
around the tail, but it definitely rubbed its way well into the tail," she said
from her research office near Digby, N.S.
quite roughed up. I think it will be a fairly difficult disentanglement."
The Canadian Coast Guard travelled to the site Saturday,
but could do little to help the whale and no longer knows where it is. An
official with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it would have to wait
for another sighting before taking any action.
A team of
American disentanglement experts was on standby to come to the area near the
mouth of the Bay of Fundy, if a rescue could be launched. The concern is that
the line might grow into the young whale's flesh and cause an infection, which
can be fatal if not treated.
Researchers are closely
watching the progress of the whales, who make an annual trek from their
birthing grounds off Florida and Georgia into the bay where they feed on rich
supplies of plankton.
They're hoping to stave off any
more deaths of the marine giants, whose fragile population has been reduced to
only 300 worldwide.
About 75 whales are clustered off
Cape Cod, where it's believed they're delaying their move into the bay because
of plentiful food supplies in U.S. waters.
the Bay of Fundy have set up a tracking system that will alert vessels of right
whales in the area to prevent ship strikes, one of the biggest killers of the
whales who lumber along slowly and can't get out of the way of massive bulk