The Boston Globe reports that a humpback whale entangled in rope and attacked by a prowling great white shark was freed by scientists on Saturday.
The scientists were researching the gases exhaled by humpback whales and came across the stranded whale entangled in rope at Stellwagen Bank, Massachusetts — an area which is popular among locals as a whale feeding ground.
The whale was found immobilized at the surface of the water and hogtied from tail to mouth rendering escape impossible. Whilst tied, the whale sustained damage from a great white shark who took a bite from the whales flank. Experts do not know how long the whale had been tangled up for.
Dr. Jooke Robbins, CCS of director of Humpback Whale Research, was the first to spot the whale and initially assumed the humpback was merely resting.
The scientists freed the whale while being circled by a 15-foot-long great white shark. Rescuers boarded a 35-foot response vessel named “Ibis” to keep a safe distance while they cut the ropes that bound the whale. Once the shark departed the scene, the response unit was able to move in closer to the whale using a little rubber dingy. They then removed the rope rapped around the whale’s tail.
Upon release, the whale immediately swam out to sea, NECN reports. The Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team has freed numerous animals including 200 whales. Just this year alone, there have been 11 humpback whales identified as entangled, with 10-12 percent of Maine’s 1,000-strong whale population entangled on an annual basis.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity off of the gulf of Maine is urged to contact response units.
Scott Landry, director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team reports that the whale was “very lucky” to escape with its life intact after the assault from the shark.
This whale is very lucky. It probably would have been killed by the shark if we had not freed it.
In other news, a humpback whale in Maui was freed by rescuers.