A group of researchers managed to save an entangled whale that was about to be attacked by a shark. The humpback whale was found on Stellwagen Bank, a region where whales come quite often to feed themselves. The area is roughly five miles away from Provincetown. The great white shark that was circling the entangled whale was 15 foot long and had already bitten the whale several times by the time the rescue team arrived.
The humpback whale was discovered by a research team from the Center for Coastal Studies that was studying the gas exhaled by humpback whales off the coast of Massachusetts. They found the whale entangled from mouth to tail in a rope. It was unable to move to the surface of the water or to escape at all. While the animal was immobilized the shark started biting the whale and its right flank was badly injured.
When the Marine Animal Entanglement Response crew arrived the shark was still there so they had to try and free the whale from their boat which was 35 feet long. They managed to cut the rope around the whale’s body and mouth while keeping a safe distance from the shark. Afterwards they waited for the shark to leave in order to remove the rest of the rope.
Using a rubber dingy they got closer to the entangled whale. As soon as they managed to remove the rope which was tightly wrapped around its tail the animal swam out to the sea.
The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team has saved more than 200 whales over time along with many other animals. In 2015 they succeeded rescuing eleven entangled whales. The crew recommends people to contact them as soon as they notice anything strange off the gulf of Maine.
Scott Landry, the director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team, said:
“This whale is very lucky. It probably would have been killed by the shark if we had not freed it.”
Dr. Jooke Robbins, the director of Humpback Whale Research at the Center for Coastal Studies, said that he had only witnessed a shark attack a whale once before in Hawaii, but never where it happened now. She said that sharks most likely attack vulnerable animals like those who are sick or incapacitated whales like the one in this instance.
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