MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - An adult humpback whale is free after swimming in Maui waters entangled in rope.
According to NOAA officials, the large whale was first reported entangled on Thursday by the captain of a fishing vessel.
A trained response team soon deployed and used a small inflatable craft to approach the animal. Officials said the whale became "very active" upon their initial approach, so they waited for it to calm down before attempting to remove the braided rope.
Removal operations continued into Friday when crews were able to successfully remove all debris.
Officials said the whale was tangled in 285 feet of 3/8 braided rope from its mouth.
"On release, the animal immediately breached several times," NOAA said. "With the removal of gear, it is believed that the animal has an excellent chance of surviving."
If you see an entangled marine animal, keep at least 100 yards distance and call the NOAA 24-hour Hotline at 1-888 256-9840. If cell service is not available, boaters can radio the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH. 16, and they will handle the report.
NOAA wants to remind everyone that it is illegal to approach a humpback whale within 100 yards under any means by sea, and 1,000 feet by aircraft.