Team cuts 500 feet of fishing gear from emaciated juvenile whale off Maui

(Image: NOAA)
(Image: NOAA)
Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 5:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - NOAA says five entangled whales have been spotted in Hawaii in the past week.

Four of them were off Maui. And now one of them has a better chance of survival.

Trained responders caught up with the whale Wednesday morning.

NOAA rescue team leader Ed Lyman said tour boat had been tracking the juvenile.

And after a quick assessment, the chase was on.

“We were up against a mouth entanglement ― a line in the mouth ― a bridle twisted behind the whale and then several hundred feet of line trailing,” he said.

In high winds and surf, Lyman and his team had to make several different approaches to disentangle the fishing gear. In all, more than 500 feet were removed.

There’s still some left in the humpback’s mouth, but he said the emaciated whale now has a fighting chance.

This is the second whale the team has freed this season. But seven other entangled humpbacks got away.

Investigators are trying to find out where all the gear is coming from.

Lyman said mariners are the first link in what’s become a statewide effort.

“Pretty much everyone on the water here is involved,” he said. “They’ve all lent a hand over the years. I just say mahalo so much, greatly appreciate it.”

To report a sighting of an entangled whale, call 888-256-9840.

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