Duke team tags entangled whale, helps with disentanglement effort

On February 16th the Duke Marine Lab crew, aboard the R/V RT Barber, spotted a NARW at 14:00, 40 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. The UNC Wilmington aerial survey team (NOAA Scientific Permit 16473 Issued to UNCW) was also conducting surveys off-shore in the same area for the Navy. Efforts were coordinated between groups to get a visual on the animal and a refined location as it was traveling subsurface. Upon arrival to the animal the aerial survey team noticed the whale was entangled and directed the R/V RT Barber and R/V Stellwagen, a Duke contracted vessel, to the animal, which was later identified as Eg4507. The entanglement was wrapped around the upper jaw with a knot above the eye and 100 feet of line trailing behind the left side of the animal. The UNC Wilmington aerial survey team called FWC and provided them a location and entanglement information. During this time the R/V RT Barber crew placed a DTag on the whale.  FWC sent a plane out to take over documentation of the entangled whale and also launched a vessel to attach a telemetry buoy to the animal. The Duke team was asked to stay with the whale until the FWC vessel arrived.  The R/V Stellwagen stayed with the whale through the duration of FWC’s efforts.

On February 17th the whale was located with the telemetry buoy at 09:30, 60 miles north of its last know location on February 16th. The FWC aerial survey team located the animal and researchers from FWC and GA-DNR were able to make an attempt at disentanglement.  Some of the line was removed and it is believed that the rest of the gear will work itself out.

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