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Young humpback whale saved from 'dangerous entanglement' off northern Vancouver Island

Marine mammal rescuers have successfully come to the assistance of another entangled juvenile humpback whale in B.C.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) received a report of a young humpback whale entangled in prawn gear in the Broughton Archipelago on Sunday.

Fortunately, a DFO team was already in the area heading to Haida Gwaii, B.C., to perform a whale necropsy when the call came in.

The team found the entangled whale near Port Hardy, B.C., and tagged it with a satellite tracker.

On Monday, crews were able to find the whale again thanks to the satellite tracker placed and went to work removing the gear, which included buoys that were being dragged behind the juvenile humpback.

"We located the whale and it was exhausted. It actually had multiple wraps around the tail – over 400 feet of rope," said Paul Cottrell, marine mammal coordinator for the DFO.

"There were some injuries on the tail stock and then when we got closer we realized it was also hogtied through the mouth, so it was a real complicated and dangerous entanglement," he said.

The DFO suspects the ropes came from some recreational prawning gear that was likely located south of where the whale was found. However, the DFO is still investigating the source of the fishing gear.

"Definitely the animal was in tough shape, and is [still] in tough shape," said Cottrell.

"We're hoping it's going to make a full recovery but definitely the animal was labouring, appeared exhausted, and there was some damage to the tail stock we could see," he said.

Cottrell noted that he's helped rescue other animals in "worse shape" so he's hopeful this juvenile humpback will make a recovery.

"It's amazing how robust and resilient these animals are," he said.

The DFO notes that members of the Marine Education Research Society also helped track down and rescue the whale. 

Some of the fishing gear removed the entangled whale is shown. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) Top Stories

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