Equipping Pacific Whale Foundation's Ocean Protector &
Research Team To Respond to Whale Entanglements
Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) researchers and research vessel, Ocean Protector, have been designated a dedicated response platform for the Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network. Entanglement is a global problem for whales, dolphins, seals and other marine animals -- often resulting in death by starvation or drowning.
Pacific Whale Foundation is part of a community of ocean advocates working to prevent and respond to whale entanglements. The network is coordinated by Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and operates under the authority of NOAA Fisheries' Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and a permit issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The role of PWF is to provide an initial assessment of an entangled whale, document the animal’s behavior and the nature of the entanglement and, if the entanglement is life-threatening, tag the animal to aid a response by the NOAA-led disentanglement team. The satellite tag is attached to the trailing gear which allows the response team to relocate the whale and if necessary, mount multiple efforts due to weather conditions, time constraints, and/or the animal becoming too aggressive.
“Whale rescue is complex and dangerous for the whale rescuers as well as the animal,” said network coordinator Ed Lyman. “For this reason, disentanglement responses may only be attempted by experienced and authorized personnel who have proper support and equipment. Pacific Whale Foundation’s research team brings the knowledge and expertise needed for this critically important work.”
Most of PWF’s tagging gear has been generously provided by NOAA at a value of over $5000, including GPS platform transmitter terminal, telemetry buoy, grapple, line, UHF tester and Pelican case. The researchers received specialized training in disentanglement in January 2016, with additional training scheduled for November and December.
“We're honored to have the opportunity to use our knowledge and resources to help whales in distress,” said PWF senior researcher Jens Currie. “We look forward to playing an increasing role within NOAA’s team of first responders. We're also excited to keep our members and supporters updated on our efforts.”
The entanglement response network was formed in 2002 to free entangled humpback whales and other marine animals and to gather information that will help mitigate marine debris and prevent these life-threatening situations.
Pacific Whale Foundation researchers remind you that if you see an entangled whale, please do not attempt to assist or free the animal on your own. Call the NOAA Hotline at (888) 256-9840 with the location, age of the animal (calf, subadult, or adult), condition of the animal (and if it is mobile or not), and a description of the entanglement and/or gear involved.
For more information, including PWF's Be Whale Awareguidelines for responsible whalewatching, please visit www.pacificwhale.org.
Pacific Whale Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans through science and advocacy, including marine research and conservation programs in Hawaii, Australia, Chile and Ecuador. Media Contact: