HONOLULU (AP) — Officials say a number of private boats helped a team of federal responders free a young humpback whale from heavy gauge fishing gear off Hawaii.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a joint statement Thursday that the “subadult” humpback was first spotted Wednesday morning by a dive boat off Maui.
The commercial vessel alerted officials that the whale was struggling, and NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary coordinated a rescue effort with the U.S. Coast Guard and others.
Ed Lyman, the sanctuary’s whale entanglement coordinator, says the whale was carrying several hundred feet of fishing gear and buoys behind it.
Lyman says the gear was likely attached to the whale, which had become somewhat emaciated and was showing signs of weakness, for months.