Humpback Freed From Entanglement
It has been a very exciting couple of days for IFAW’s Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT) operating in the Bay of Fundy.
On Tuesday I had a call from Mackie Greene, the CWRT team leader to let me know that an entangled humpback whale had been reported by a conscientious fisherman south of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.
The whale was anchored by the neck with ropes, lobster traps and anchors and although he was able to breath he could not move much.
Unfortunately, the sea was far too rough to attempt an immediate rescue and Mackie had to wait for the morning when they were expecting a brief period of calmer winds.
None of us got too much sleep thinking about the whale stuck in the stormy ocean unable to move and fighting for every breath.
Today at lunchtime I spoke to an exhausted Mackie Greene who had stepped back on shore, returning from the water south of Grand Manan.
It took over an hour to reach the 40 foot Humpback whale named “Pez”. When they found him they realized it would be a very difficult rescue as the whale had about 75 lobster traps and the connecting ropes and anchors wrapped tightly around him, anchoring him to the bottom of the ocean.
Mackie knew that if they did not rescue Pez today he would most certainly die.
The whale’s left flipper had 5 or 6 wraps of rope around it and they started there. Once they freed the flipper they went to work on cutting the ropes that somehow managed to braid together forming a tight noose around the whale’s neck. The whale had been at this location for 3-4 days and had been battling for his life through heavy storms while caught in this heavy gear causing severe bruising and cuts over most of his body.
Mackie said it took about an hour to complete the rescue. He has been rescuing entangled whales in the Bay of Fundy for many years and has seen some pretty horrible entanglements but this was by far the worst he’d seen.
It took over 30 rope cuts to free Pez and Mackie broke 3 knives and lost several poles in the process. Mackie said they did not quit until every last piece of rope and equipment was off the whale including a six foot piece of rope coming from his mouth.
Mackie said that as he watched Pez swim away he felt he would make a full recovery. Pez the humpback whale will have a happy holiday this year thanks to the efforts of Mackie and the team. I am just so proud that IFAW is able to support the work of these brave men as they risk their own lives to save these magnificent whales.