Whale entangled for hours

A humpback whale that had become entangled in rope off the B.C. coast was rescued Monday.

The whale was tightly wrapped up in the debris for hours before help arrived.

“This animal was definitely in major distress, and just with the ropes, the tight tension, that were wrapping around the animal and seeing the skin and the abrasions and the bleedings, it was awful to see,” said Paul Cottrell, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “This animal definitely couldn’t have survived too long under that kind of tension.”

Rescuers found the whale snagged on an anchor line at the empty Marine Harvest fish farm near Bella Bella, north of Vancouver Island off the mainland.

Rescuers believe it may have already been entangled in the rope before becoming hooked on the anchor line.

“This if the first time this has ever happened to us,” said Marine Harvest spokesman Ian Roberts. “So we’ll review the situation and see how our anchor lines may have contributed to this event, and if we need to make changes to our farms, we’ll make them across all our farms if that’s needed.”

Cottrel warns the public to never attempt to rescue a whale themselves, and to report any incidents to DFO through their 24/7 hotline – 1-800-465-4336.

“If we get the call and we can get there, our success rate is huge,” said Cottrell. “It’s all about the 1-800 number, and not having people engage with the animal and trying to cut gear off, because that’s made situations worse in the past.”

An alarming 47 per cent of humpback whales in B.C. Water have become entangled in debris at one point in their lives.

- With files from CTV Vancouver Island

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