Right Whale Disentangled in Bay of Fundy

Right Whale Disentangled in Bay of Fundy
Monday, 15 August, 2016
Campobello, New Brunswick

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT) successfully disentangled a right whale Saturday afternoon in the Bay of Fundy.

The whale is a six year old male, #4057, who has been dubbed FDR. He was caught up in a huge ball of nets and fishing gear on his back, through the right side of his mouth in the baleen, around both flippers, and around the tail stock.

Disentangling FDR took five hours of grueling work. In the end the CWRT was able to cut all of it free, starting with the ball of gear on his back. Then the whale rolled over, exposing his left flipper, and the team seized the opportunity, cutting that line free before moving onto the other flipper and tail stock.

“This was one of the most severe entanglements we’ve ever seen,” said Moira Brown, senior scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute. “We lost count after 10 cuts.”

Mackie Greene, CWRT Leader and Joe Howlett, both fishermen from Campobello Island, were responsible for freeing the whale. “It was Campobello fishermen to the rescue,” said Brown. Jerry Conway, retired manager at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans also assisted in the operation, driving the support vessel.

The team decided to name the whale FDR because of its connection to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, who had a summer home on Campobello Island. In 2014 the whale was also disentangled off the coast of Georgia — where President Roosevelt went for therapy after contracting polio. “We here on Campobello are proud of our link to President Roosevelt, who overcame a lot of challenges. This whale has also suffered some serious challenges in his short life, and with the connection to Campobello and Georgia, we thought the name really fit,” said Brown.

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team started in 2002, and is made up entirely of volunteer fishermen and is supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This disentanglement also involved help from the New England Aquarium, the Grand Manaan Whale and Seabird Research station, and the Canadian Whale Institute.  “It’s great to see so many organizations and people working together to save the life of an endangered right whale,” said Res Krebs, campaigns and communications specialist at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

This time of year, the Bay of Fundy is full of whales coming to feed in the nutrient-rich waters — and full of fishermen as well. Unfortunately, lobster traps, weirs, nets, and ropes, all necessary to the fishing industry snag between two and twelve whales every year in this region. This makes it all the more important for all the people on the water to report whale emergencies in the Bay of Fundy to the whale emergency hotline: 1-866-567-6277.

For an interview with CWRT Leader Mackie Greene please contact the offices of Island Cruises Whale Watching at (506) 752-1107. To obtain images and video of the whale disentanglement, please contact Res Krebs, Campaigns and Communications Specialist, IFAW Canada — Tel: (416) 669-3459, Email: akrebs@ifaw.org

Ends

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Res Krebs (IFAW Canada)
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(416) 669-3459
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Experts

Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation