Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Entangled Humpback Location Currently Unknown

Entangled Humpback Location Currently Unknown

I just received a call from Jamieson Smith of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) bringing me up to date on the status of the humpback whale entangled off Florida.

The humpback sighted off Ft. Pierce is the same one first seen off St. Augustine March 7. A concerted effort was made to rescue the whale on that occasion. But the whale has been highly evasive. It evaded placement of a satellite tag that would have enabled continuous monitoring of its position.

NMFS is advertising a hotline number for anyone spotting this entangled whale. 866-755-6622

The rescue team that was in St. Augustine has been moved to Ft. Pierce to be ready should another rescue attempt be possible.

There have been reports of entangled humpbacks off the Florida coast in recent days but the whales turned out to be unencumbered.

There was no calf with the entangled humpback. The captain of the party boat who reported that says he saw a large animal under the entangled whale. He assumed it to be a calf but in retrospect says it never surfaced so the shadowy figure must have been a shark.

We discussed the dolphin activity around the humpback and Jamieson told me that was not unusual. We both agreed that it is hard to impute motivation to dolphins under such circumstances. But he did say that having dolphins around an entangled whale makes it easy to find the whale.

I told him of my experience in the Bahamas where I was certainly protected by four juvenile spotted dolphins from a hammerhead shark. Judge for yourself in the accompanying video.