Humpback unbound

Humpback calf with line wrapped around it

Humpback calf with line wrapped around it – Photo courtesy NOAA

A humpback whale calf has been disentangled from fishing gear near Juneau.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the calf and its mother were spotted Wednesday morning by a charter fishing boat near Halibut Cove on Shelter Island. The whales appeared to be heading up Lynn Canal at about 5 knots. Other whale-watching boats monitored the pair until a NOAA team could arrive on-scene.

“The calf was trailing a bouy and it was entangled in the line, said Speegle. “Our whale disentanglement team did spend several hours observing the lines and how they were wrapped around the calf to figure out exactly which lines to sever in order to free the calf.”

The five-member, specially-trained disentanglement team also attached a transmitter to track the calf in case it raced away before they could return in a separate boat to free it.

“Mama was nearby and she was very protective of her calf throughout this whole operation,” said Speegle. “At times, she tried to position herself between the rescuers and the calf to protect her calf.”

Speegle said the calf was freed from the fishing lines Wednesday evening just west of Berners Bay.

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