NOAA teams free mother whale from 550 feet of marine debris off Maui

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Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 7:55 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 8:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - NOAA says a multi-agency response team has freed an entangled humpback whale off Lahaina.

Experts said the mother whale, who was with her calf and a male partner, had more than 550 feet of line tightly wrapped around her head and in front of her pectoral flippers. Entanglements involving a whale’s head are particularly challenging as they pose a serious threat to the animal and the team.

A tour vessel first spotted the whale on Saturday. Since then, the marine wildlife team sprung into action, and spent six hours freeing it Monday.

NOAA said the gear included a dozen types of lines and netting, including at least 30 feet of particularly thick line estimated at greater than 1.5 inches in diameter.

“Once freed, the mother and her calf went into resting behavior, with the calf tucking under the mother’s chin. The successful response increased the survival chances for both the mother and her calf,” NOAA said in a news release.

Anyone who spots marine wildlife in distress is urged to report it to NOAA’s Hotline at 888-256-9840.

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