Jamison Smith, Large Whale Disentanglement Coordinator,
As of February 10, there have been five entangled whales in the SEUS. On December 8, 2008, the New England Aquarium (NEAq) aerial survey team located entangled right whale #3294 (an adult-size animal of unknown age and sex). Multi-agency disentanglement efforts during the middle of the month removed approximately 800 feet of line from the whale. The whale was later sighted on February 1, 2009 and is believed to be gear free. December 26, 2008, presented another entangled right whale, this time sighted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute aerial survey team. The whale was identified by the NEAq as the 2007 calf of #1701 and with another multi-agency disentanglement effort over 680 feet of line was removed. The whale was later sighted on January 4, 2009 and confirmed to be gear free. Entangled right whale #3311 (the 2003 calf of #1711, unknown sex) was sighted entangled by the Georgia Wildlife Trust aerial survey team on January 14, 2009. A telemetry buoy was deployed for this difficult embedded head and mouth entanglement and the case is currently on-going. Multiple attempts have been made on this whale and to date, the animal’s evasive behavior have made those attempts unsuccessful. Monitoring weather and the whale’s location, local teams are prepared to respond as new tools and techniques are being developed. A fourth entangled right whale, right whale #3420 (a 5-year-old female born in 2004), was sighted by the NEAq aerial survey team on January 31, 2009. A telemetry buoy was deployed but satellite data has been sporadic and the case is currently on-going. Lastly, on February 7, the Georgia Wildlife Trust aerial survey team identified the 2007 calf of right whale #2614 as entangled. A telemetry buoy was attached on February 9, but attempts at gear removal await a favorable weather window.