From: Associated Press
Published July 17, 2006 12:00 AM

Two Humpbacks Entangled off New England

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Rescue crews were attempting Sunday to free two humpback whales entangled in commercial fishing nets or marine rope in New England coastal waters.

One rescue crew arrived at a site off the Maine coast where a humpback was entangled in marine gear, said Theresa Barbo of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in Massachusetts.

People aboard a whale watch boat spotted the distressed humpback Saturday. The Maine Marine Patrol found the whale early Sunday in heavy fog.

"It is a life-threatening entanglement," said Barbo, who wasn't sure of the whale's size.

A second rescue team was on its way to an entangled humpback off the Massachusetts coast, the whale rescue organization said.

Whale watch vessels from several tour companies were taking turns monitoring the humpback until the disentanglement team arrived.

The Coastal Studies center is permitted by the federal government to disentangle large whales entangled by marine debris, in most cases fishing gear. Entanglements are a leading cause of whale deaths.

A 45-foot adult male humpback was disentangled July 10 by a Coastal Studies team in shallow waters between Provincetown and Gloucester, Mass. The whale had become caught up in a commercial fishing net.

Last August, a humpback was cut free by rescuers after heavy rope became wrapped around its flippers in Canadian waters. The whale had been tangled in anchored lobster gear for at least three days.

Humpbacks, an endangered species, are known for their singing abilities and group hunting techniques.

Source: Associated Press

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