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Rescue workers free humpback whale from fishing net off Massachusetts Bay
Rescue workers free humpback whale from fishing net off Massachusetts Bay

For the third time in as many weeks, the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team (MAER) rushed to rescue a whale entangled in fishing nets.

Rescuers said they were alerted by a tuna fishing boat that a humpback whale – identified as a mudskipper by the CCS Humpback Whale Studies Program – accompanied by its calf was towing a buoy at the northern end of Stellwagen Bank.

According to authorities, arriving rescuers discovered Mudskipper with a 150-foot-long rope from a fishing net in her mouth. Her 7-month-old calf was also with her, trying to nurse.

Fearing the calf could be injured or entangled, MAER crews deployed a small inflatable boat to reinforce the fishing gear with large floats. Video shows the floats and the drag of the inflatable boat being towed by the humpback mother as she pulls the fishing line free.

According to officials, the mother and calf ran away after their release and are expected to recover soon.

“Thank you to the crew of the tuna fishing vessel for promptly reporting the sighting and to the Cape Ann Whale Watch Company for forwarding the report,” a MAER spokesperson said. “Boaters are urged to report sightings of whales, sea turtles or other marine animals entangled in the water to the MAER team (1-800-900-3622) or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF 16 and to stay at a safe distance from the animal until trained responders arrive.”

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By Aurora