NOAA: No success yet with entangled whale

Efforts to cut a humpback whale free of gill netting it has been dragging around Southeast Alaska for the last 12 days continue to fail.

30aug13 Blowhole Necklace

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The humpback whale on Friday. The line is wrapped near the blowhole; most of the gill net fishing gear is underneath the animal. (Courtesy NOAA)

A marine mammal response team member prepares on Saturday to attach polyball floats to the fishing gear tangled on the whale. The floats are intended to lift the weighted fishing gear, making it easier to work on. (Courtesy NOAA)

Response team members Fred Sharpe of the Alaska Whale Foundation, and Kirk Hardcastle, a fisherman, move towards the entangled whale on Saturday in an attempt to cut some of the gear loose. (Courtesy NOAA)

Teams from Juneau have made several unsuccessful attempts to cut the fishing gear free from the whale over the weekend. Some gear has been removed, but a “significant” amount remains, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency says the whale can breathe and isn’t in immediate danger.

Disentanglement teams are waiting for calmer waters before trying again later this week. A satellite tag that a team in Petersburg attached lets officials track the whale.

Team members say it’s been challenging because the weighted gear is beneath the whale, and because the whale has been evasive.

NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the whale is in Chatham Strait.

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