BEACON TRANSCRIPT – As of Friday morning, when it was first spotted, a humpback whale needs rescuing from a fishing line.
A whale watching vessel off the coast of Laguna Beach spotted this poor giant struggling to get out of what seemed to be some two hundred feet of line. Evidently, a rescue party was immediately assembled, made up of rescuers belonging to the Nation Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the NOAA.
The good news is that they were indeed able to entangle the whale out of most of the rope. However, the scared animal dove right away as soon as it was partially freed. Therefore, the rescuers were not able to remove all the fishing line.
The bad news is that most of what remains on the whale is located near its mouth, therefore making it very hard for the whale to eat. Also, the giant is trailing after it close to 100 meters of the fishing line, which again makes it very hard for it to swim and dive. But the rescuers will still keep an eye out for it, because they do hope to see it again and try to detach the rest of the line from it as well. They would like to make sure the whale has no more problems.
Incidents like this one are a common and very dangerous problem for the marine wildlife. The fishing industry calls it “bycatch” and it affects them as well, because the larger mammals destroy their lines and release their catch when they get tangled.
The “bycatch” phenomenon affects some ten different species of cetaceans, from the biggest ones, like the humpback whale that was caught on Friday, down to the smaller ones like purpoises or vaquitas. The latter are in a lot more danger. As far as size goes, they are much more like tuna and the swordfish the nets are there to catch and, therefore, are a lot more likely to get tangled and not be able to release themselves again.
Unfortunately, more than 300 000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die every year affected by the “bycatch” occurrences, according to the Whale and Dolphin conservation group. They either drown or die from the wounds they get while trying to escape the fishing nets.
But, on the bright side, the numbers are dropping, because many efforts have been put into this during the past decades. For example, dolphins “bycatch” has dropped 99 percent since the 1950s.
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