A rescue team from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Seattle, U.S., is searching for a whale that found itself entangled with fishing lines, off the coast of Hawaii.
An Associated Press release indicated an adult male humpback whale was caught, from head to tail, in fishing net. The incident happened south of the island of Maui. The officials present tried to disentangle the whale from the net but the animal managed to wriggle free and then disappeared; however, the whale is still partially entangled.
According to the officials, the net could harm the whale unless it is removed soon. They are trying to track down the whale before it gets killed. A report by The Washington Post quoted Jeff Walters, the marine mammal branch chief at the NMFS as saying the lines were caught in the whale's mouth.
This isn't the first time whales in general (and humpbacks in particular) have run afoul of fishing gear and tackle. In 2011, a humpback almost died after being caught in a fishing net, off the Californian coast. Fortunately, three courageous men saved the whale in what was described as a breathtaking performance by the rescuers.
The problem is that whales tend to get trapped by fishing lines because these lines - which connect to the traps - can run as deep as 90 feet.
When the whales get tangled up with the lines, they try to free themselves by rolling around. This only results in the line getting wrapped tighter and tighter. Worse still, the fishing line can cut into the whale's skin and even damage bones. As a result, they die because their wounds get infected and they can't feed themselves.
Unfortunately, why the mammals can't detect the fishing line is still a mystery. Research shows that more than 40 to 50 whales get entangled in fishing lines every year and approximately 70 percent of those die as a result of the accident.