Team will attempt
to disentangle right whale
By NINA CHIARELLI
A right whale so
seriously entangled in lobster gear near Campobello Island is in a
life-threatening position, says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' marine
Jerry Conway said a mature North Atlantic
right whale, about 16.5 metres long and weighing 60 tonnes, was discovered
Wednesday morning with its tail entangled in lobster gear, rope and a buoy
about three to four miles off the lighthouse side of Campobello Island.
Mr. Conway, the department's coordinator of
disentangling, returned to on-call duty during a scheduled holiday to dispatch
local whale experts to the whale's last known site Wednesday afternoon. He said
the entanglement was so serious the whale was having difficulty foraging and
feeding because of its inability to dive, which was severely restricted by the
Mr. Conway dispatched Mackie Green, a local
Campobello Island fisherman and commercial whale watching operator, and a team
of two others to attempt the disentangling.
credentials include a course taken by the Centre for Coastal Studies in
Provincetown, Mass., the area's foremost expert organization that logs and
follows all entanglements in the Bay of Fundy.
and his team were trying to locate the whale Wednesday to affix a radio beacon
to the gear that would indicate via a satellite its position in the bay.
"It's a very dangerous situation for anybody to try and
disentangle a what in the first place," Mr. Conway said. "We wouldn't try it at
night. And it's all weather dependent.
The North Atlantic
right whale is an endangered species. With only about 300 right whales left in
the world, and only about 75 breeding females, every entanglement is a threat
to the whale population's stability. It is not known whether the entangled
whale is male or female.
Scientists and researchers were
only able to untangle one right whale last summer, though as many as eight were
believed entangled, five in the Bay of Fundy alone.
Collisions with ships and gear entanglements are the
leading causes of death that diminish the small whale population annually.
Entanglements are typical each year, as the right whales
migrate from the southern United States to the Bay of Fundy in the summer. The
phenomenon is not limited to right whales. The species-at-risk office of the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Halifax gets reports of other whales such
as humpbacks, finbacks and minkes, as well as marine animals such as the
harbour porpoise getting tangled in fishing gear.
Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., is currently tracking an
entangled humpback whale, Mr. Conway said.