Saving the North Atlantic right whale - North AmericaDon't fail our whale
On January 20, Song of the Whale crew provided support to trained responders as they disentangled a North Atlantic right whale named Nimbus, who was caught in fishing rope off the coast of Georgia.
After a whale survey aircraft sighted the entangled right whale 13 miles east of Jekyll Island, responders from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources jumped into action, with assistance from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries Service, and Song of the Whale. Staff from NOAA Fisheries, Center for Coastal Studies, and New England Aquarium provided offsite assistance.
Working from boats, the responders used specialized tools to remove approximately 375 feet of synthetic rope, which was passing through Nimbus’ mouth and dragging hundreds of feet behind his flukes.
Although the responders were unable to remove a short segment of rope that was passing through his mouth, they determined he would likely shed the remaining rope in time.
Nimbus is a 15-year-old male, named after scars on his lips that resemble a cloud. Those scars predate this entanglement.
Getting entangled in commercial fishing gear is one of the leading causes of death for critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, along with vessel strikes. Many entanglement victims die from complications related to fractures and lacerations or exhaustion and starvation. Chronic entanglements also stunt right whales’ growth, increase the interval between births, and jeopardize the survival of calves.
Song of the Whale remains ready to respond North Atlantic right whales in distress as it follows them along the eastern coast of the United States from January through August to conduct critical research to prevent the species’ extinction.