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UPDATE: Whale is Free After Being Tangled 2 Miles Off Inlet

Whale swam away after being "rescued" by NOAA team

The Coast Guard maintains a safety zone around an entangled whale approximately two miles east of Manasquan Inlet Thursday.
The Coast Guard maintains a safety zone around an entangled whale approximately two miles east of Manasquan Inlet Thursday.
A whale that had been tangled in fishing line about two miles east of the Manasquan Inlet is now free, according to NOAA.

The humpback "has been rescued," said Maggie Mooney-Seus, a spokesperson for the  the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at about 12:20 p.m. Friday.

She did not immediately know the exact time or means of freeing the marine mammal that had been tangled for at least 24 hours, but said more details would be forthcoming.

Click on the NOAA website here for more information. Also, NOAA expects to release more details later this afternoon.

Earlier on Friday, NOAA had said that contractors for NOAA would try to cut the fishing line entangling the humpback whale about two miles east of the Manasquan Inlet. 

A crew from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., is on scene and would be trying to cut line around a whale that is about 25 to 30 feet long, said David Morin, a manager with the Large Whale Disentanglement Network of the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Judging from the size, the whale is a juvenile, Morin said, adding that adult humpbacks can be more than 50 feet long.

The Provincetown personnel, who have "extensive experience" disentangling whales, went out in an inflatable boat to try to cut the lines, Morin said.

Morin said the whale initially had been unable to swim away because "it's (tangled) in gear that is heavy enough and/or wrapping certain parts of the body. However, it can go up to the surface and breathe. We've had whales that have been entangled for weeks. They have an extensive blubber layer they can live off for quite a long time."

When asked if crews handling disentangling ever use tranquilizer guns, Morin said, "We do in extreme cases, where our normal techniques do not work, we have a way to sedate the animal. But the drugs are extremely expensive and we just don't have a lot of funding. There have been a lot of budget cuts. It's not something we pull out on every stop, only when nothing else works." 

The crew had planned to figure out how the whale is entangled and attempt to cut the line head to tail since it was an anchored animal.

"You want to leave the anchoring line as the last one you cut," Morin said.

A safety zone of 300 yards had been established around the whale in all directions, according to the Coast Guard.

The whale was reported tangled at about 11 a.m. Thursday and had been "moving about" when it was still tangled, said Nicholas Ameen, a Coast Guard spokesman. 

The net is attached to a "high flyer" which is a thin pole, said Ameen. When asked what the gender of the whale is, he said he did not know.

There have been no problems enforcing the safety zone and there have been no reports of other whales in the area, Ameen said.

Ameen said that contractors hired by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are the personnel on scene trying to directly assist the whale and that the Coast Guard is there only to continue to enforce the safety zone perimeter.

Caption for attached photo: The Coast Guard maintains a safety zone around an entangled whale approximately two miles east of Manasquan Inlet on Thursday. The Coast Guard was working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was working to free the entangled whale. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Miranda Moore

Click here to view video of the scene. (Thank you to Coast Guard for allowing Patch to use its stills and video.)

This story is developing and will be regularly updated as more information becomes available.


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