Saturday January 27th Ultimate Whale Watch owner and marine biologist Lee James got a call to lead the West Maui first responders team to aid the 8th entangled whale of the season (we are now at 11 reported entanglements since this was reported!).
“Research is benefiting them long term, but this is short term and it’s exciting work” said Lee, after completing the disentanglement efforts. “Seeing them in distress and be able to actually do something and help them is gratifying”.
This humpback whale was first spotted off Black Rock, Kaanapali around 10am that morning, in what seems to be a harness style entanglement of line and buoys that looped around the whale’s peck fins, maybe even in his mouth, and around his fluke. (see diagram below). Coordinator Ed Lyman was on the mainland and gave authority to Lee to attempt to disentangle the resting whale. Joining Lee was his father Bill James and also Grant Thompson. Using a 30ft pole the team attempted to make a cut on the line, and again on the other side, but then the whale starting running. Thankfully they were able to put a cut in the line and were able to tag the animal by grappling the telemetry package to the trailing gear. The cuts in the line were enough to help the whale become free and NOAA believes the whale has since been freed of its entanglement!
If you see trash, line or junk in the ocean, please pick it up!
If you sight any marine mammal in distress, maintain 100 yards distance and please call the NOAA Fisheries’ 24/7 response Hotline at 1-888-256-9840 and follow them on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/
FUN FACT: Ultimate Whale Watch and Snorkel was the first commercial outfit to work with NOAA-it’s been a privilege to have the opportunity to actually make a difference in the lives of these amazing animals that we are lucky enough to watch in their natural habit every season.