Whale disentanglement is complex and dangerous. It involves small boat handling, ropes under high tension, sharp blades and panicked wild animals. There are safety and legal protocols, and a number of detailed assessments must be made including, condition of the animal, nature of the entanglement, weather and conditions, and available resources.
The IWC brings together the leaders of established national disentanglement programmes. They are donating their knowledge and experience to train nominees and extend response capacity to other parts of the world where entanglements occur.
David coordinates the IWC entanglement capacity building programme and leads the training workshops. He is currently on loan to the IWC from the USA Government (NOAA’s Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary). He has studied whales throughout the world’s oceans and invented some of the techniques now used to release entangled whales. He has also been involved in establishing the USA’s regional entanglement response networks. He is duty stationed at partnering NGO, the Centre for Coastal Studies, click here.
Doug Coughran has 34 years experience in marine mammal incident management. He trains all Australian State and New Zealand conservation response teams in large whale disentanglement risk management. He is Australia’s network coordinator of experienced operational teams and contributes to ongoing improvement of the safe management of marine mammal incidents. Doug was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2010. For information on Australia’s entanglement response, click here.
Paul Cottrell is the Pacific Marine Mammal Coordinator for British Columbia, based in Vancouver, BC. For information on British Columbia’s entanglement response, click here.
Wayne Ledwell runs the whale disentanglement assistance programme for the Newfoundland Labrador Region. One of his specialities is working closely with fishers. This work has released hundreds of whales from gear and saved countless dollars in lost gear and downtime. He has spent his lifetime on the ocean and has worked with tangled whales for over 20 years, 13 of those leading Tangly Whales Inc. For information on Newfoundland and Labrador’s entanglement response, click here.
Dr Frances Gulland is Senior Scientist at the Marine Mammal Centre, California, where she has been actively involved in veterinary care and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and research into marine mammal disease since 1994. In 2010, President Obama nominated Dr Gulland to serve as a federal government Commissioner at the US Marine Mammal Commission with a focus on the protection and conservation of marine mammals. For information on the USA’s Marine Mammal Centre, click here. For more information on the USA’s Marine Mammal Commission, click here.
Scott Landry directs the Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) program at the Center for Coastal Studies, in Provincetown Massachusetts. Scott trained with David Mattila and Stormy Mayo starting in 1999, later helping to coordinate and train responders for the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network. The MAER team responds to entangled whales and sea turtles off southern New England, a region with a diverse and high number of entanglement sightings, year-round. http://www.coastalstudies.org
Ed Lyman has over 20 years experience in marine mammal response. He is presently the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Resource Protection Specialist, where he coordinates a community-based network response to entangled large whales. He also assists NOAA Fisheries coordinate large whale entanglement response in Alaska and the US West Coast. Ed also works with fishermen to come up with ‘whale-safe’ gear and fishing practices that might reduce entanglement risk. Click here for more information on Hawaii’s and Alaska’s large whale entanglement response efforts respectively:
Dr Michael Moore is the Director of the Marine Mammal Center at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts. His research interests include the forensic analysis of marine mammal mortalities, especially in regard to the accurate diagnosis of perceived human impacts and the prevalence of zoonotic agents, interaction of natural and manmade impacts on fish and marine mammal stocks, marine mammal diving physiology and the development of systems to enhance medical intervention with large whales. For more information on his work:
Jamison Smith is the Atlantic Whale Entanglement Response Co-ordinator with NOAA Fisheries for the US Eastern Seaboard. He is the point of contact for this public-private partnership, which includes fishermen, conservationists, and state/federal agencies. He lectures widely on entanglement mitigation and response, and marine mammal health, and has assisted in the rescue of well over a hundred marine mammals (including manatees while working in Florida). He has worked on numerous collaborative research projects, ranging from feeding ecology of humpback whales on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in New England, to humpback whale entanglement mitigation and response off East Africa.