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A very real test for IWC's entanglement apprentices


This week at the Coastal Studies Center, Provincetown, the training of two apprentices from Mexico was overtaken by a real and complex whale entanglement. 

Karel Beets and Ricky Rebolledo of Mexico's RABEN Entanglement Response Team had joined the CCS experts to advance their knowledge and skills through an IWC global capacity-building programme.  Their training was thoroughly tested on Sunday when a young humpback was spotted in very poor condition, trailing a large amount of fishing gear from its mouth.  The apprentices joined the CCS team and were able to play active roles in the 11 hour operation.

Grappling hooks were attached used to attach ropes and buoys which slowed the whale and kept it at the surface, allowing the team to assess the entanglement.  The team then used pole-mounted knives to cut away the entanglement, selectively and methodically over several hours.  The whale was first seen at 0530 and the operation concluded in late afternoon with the whale finally released from the heavy fishing gear.  From the size and state of the whale, CCS experts assessed that it had been entangled for weeks.  Whilst still in a poor condition, it's hoped that the whale will be able to recover from its ordeal.

The CCS has donated its long-standing expertise to help the IWC build a global entanglement network.  Those countries with established and tested response capabilities are sharing their knowledge with others.  Whilst difficult to quantify, entanglement is a significant welfare issue.  It can affect any country with a coastline and the IWC initiative aims to equip all with the skills to respond safely and effectively.

For more information on entanglement click here.