Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tangled whales find an ally

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Canadian rescue team saves three whales from weirs, ropes
By Sharon Kiley Mack
BDN Staff

A humpback whale was tangled in a weir in Head Harbour Passage off Campobello Island. The whale was discovered in the weir on Friday, Sept. 11, by passing whale watch boats.

CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, New Brunswick — It has been a busy few weeks for the five-man Whale Rescue Team on the island.

Since Sept. 6, the Canadian team has responded to three reports of whales either caught in fishing weirs or appearing to be entangled in gear.“That’s more calls than we’ve had in the past two years,” Mackie Green, a team member, said Tuesday. He said there is so much whale activity in and around Head Harbour Passage — which is between Campobello Island, Deer Island and the coast of Maine — that he expects calls to continue coming in.

“There are still humpbacks in [Head Harbour Passage], and yesterday we saw 10 finbacks off the lighthouse,” he said.

The rescue team acts like a volunteer fire department for whale emergencies. They are trained by the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., and have an agreement with the U.S. to respond to calls along the northernmost coast of Maine. Each team member is equipped with a pager to alert them of an emergency situation.

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