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Humpback whale 'Spinnaker' disentangled for the third time.

A female humpback whale has been successfully freed from a third serious entanglement.   The rescue was performed by an expert team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), Provincetown, who partner the IWC in a programme to build entanglement response capability around the world.

Alerted by an aerial survey team from the North East Fisheries Survey Center, the CCS boat arrived to find the whale wrapped from mouth to tail in heavy fishing gear, forcing her into a hunched position.  The operation to release her from the life threatening entanglement took four hours.  Once a working line into the fishing gear was established, a series of painstaking cuts were made using a pole-mounted knife, until the bulk of the entanglement fell away.  Two more fishing lines were pulled from the whale's mouth before she was able to swim freely.

When underwater footage of the operation was analysed back at CCS, its Humpback Whale Studies Program team was able to identify the whale as an adult female called Spinnaker.  She is already known to entanglement response teams, most recently off the Maine coast where she was disentangled just seven months ago, highlighting the risk posed to whales by fishing gear and marine debris in the habitats they traditionally return to each year.

CCS and other established response networks around the world are generously sharing their knowledge and experience to train others in safe and professional entanglement response.  So far almost 400 individuals from 18 countries have attended Entanglement Response Workshops, and more are planned. Spinnaker's recent experiences demonstrate how important this training can be.

For more information on the IWC Entanglement Response Programme click here.

For more information on CCS and Spinnaker's rescue click here.