PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (WPRI) — A rescue team from Provincetown came to the aid of an entangled right whale in the waters off Cape Cod Thursday.
The Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) said a right whale surveillance team doing a routine survey over Stellwagen Bank spotted the whale in trouble.
CCS’ Marine Animal Entanglement Response team headed out in a rescue boat, and found the whale with the assistance of the survey plane.
The response team said the female right whale had a very thick rope wrapped around her upper jaw and blowhole. CCS said the whale was in poor physical condition, because sighting records indicated she had been entangled in the same gear for at least three years.
According to the rescue team, the rope entangling the whale had no trailing line on which they could attach buoys. Normally, the buoys would keep the whale at the surface so the team could remove the rope.
Instead, the team fired a cutting arrow at the entanglement.
According to CCS, the now-damaged rope should deteriorate and eventually fall off on its own. CCS said researchers would continue monitoring the whale, in case she needs more help.
Right whales are critically endangered, which CCS said made saving this whale all the more vital.
“With only about 433 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, the loss of one breeding female and her future calves [would] have a devastating effect on the survival of the population,” CCS said in a statement.