We’ve had a lot more Humpback Whales visiting our coast lately.
It’s awesome to see them!
Especially when they are being rescued from injury or death.
But, unfortunately, that happens too often when they interact with humans.
Just that happened this weekend when one poor whale got hogtied in fishing traps.
The Humpback got a bit too curious and ended up with multiple traps tangled around his tail, and some even stuck through his mouth.
As you can imagine, the heavy, twisted traps were sinking him down, cutting his skin from the weight.
DFO Marine Mammals coordinator Paul Cottrell said the whale had literally reached rock bottom.
“It broke free from the traps when it got anchored to the bottom, and that’s when the damage occurred on the tailstock.”
Luckily, satellite technology helped rescuers get to the exhausted whale as quickly as possible.
A local reported the whale in distress somewhere in the Broughton Archipelago to the DFO late last Sunday.
From there, it was all about tracking him down.
“The satellite tag was so instrumental in finding the whale right away,” said Cottrell.
The team got the by-then hopelessly tangled whale right away the next morning.
“The whale was very distressed, exhausted, and was towing the gear, and you could tell it was agitated.”
You can see the state the poor guy was in in the video, and from there, rescuers spent the next three hours untangling him.
He patiently waited through the whole process and took off the moment he was free again.
The DFO will keep an eye on him to ensure he recovers fully from the surface wounds and stress of the experience.
But they expect he’ll be okay.
“At this time of year, if they haven’t already, many animals are heading either to Hawaii or Mexico, so we’ll see if this animal will stay longer, and we’ll notify our colleagues over there to keep an eye out if it makes the journey,” said Cottrell.
The real question is, where did the gear he got trapped in come from?
“We’ve narrowed it down to Recreational Prawn Gear or FSC Prawn Gear; it’s not commercial gear,” added Cottrell.
This means it likely came from a local angler.
“We’re still looking into the origin of that gear, and between Campbell River and Nanaimo is where we believe the gear is from.”
With more whales out and about in the area, the likelihood of this happening again is definitely increased.
If you’re out and see a whale or any other marine mammal in distress, call the DFO’s Marine Mammal Incident Hotline at 1-800-465-4336.