Entangled whale cannot be freed with newborn calf close by, ocean experts say

Ocean experts who are monitoring a North Atlantic right whale that gave birth while entangled in fishing rope say there is little chance of removing two 16-feet lengths attached to her while her calf is young.

The endangered whale, named Snow Cone by ocean observers, だった seen in a video filmed off the coast of Georgia earlier this month by the Florida fish and wildlife commission. The video shows the newborn calf at her side and the twin ropes attached to her mouth.

She was first pictured tangled in the fishing gear in Plymouth Harbor, マサチューセッツ, last March, prompting rescue missions by crews from the Center for Coastal Studies and the removal of about 300 feet of rope.

In a rare event among this dwindling population, which is threatened by the climate crisis, ship strikes, rope entanglements and other human causes, the whale not only managed to migrate a long distance but also to successfully give birth while hampered by the ropes.

今, with the calf constantly at her side, experts say they can’t make another attempt to free her from the remaining fishing gear for the foreseeable future.

A team of disentanglement responders from the Georgia department of natural resources travelled to Cumberland Island, where the whale was photographed, but “determined that trying to remove or further shorten the rope would be too dangerous with a newborn calf present,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a story posted to its website.

“Right whale calves swim very close to their moms, making a safe approach by responders highly problematic if not impossible. NOAA Fisheries and partners are continuing to monitor Snow Cone and her newborn.”

Barb Zoodsma, large whale recovery coordinator for the agency’s southeast regional office, said Snow Cone lost a male calf in a collision with a vessel off the coast of New Jersey last summer, then still managed to migrate 1,300 miles south from summer feeding grounds off Canada this year to give birth while caught up in the ropes.

“Clearly, Snow Cone has game. それでも, her and her calf’s current situation is very concerning," 彼女は言いました.

についてのみ 350 right whales are believed to survive in the North Atlantic, according to NOAA estimates. Snow Cone and her newborn are only the second known mother-calf pairing of the 2021-22 right whale breeding season.