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Marine mammal rescue

JULY 12 — The crew of a Canadian warship helped free a humpback whale that was entangled in fishing gear off Newfoundland last week.

The HMCS St. John’s was on a routine patrol when its crew picked up a call over the VHF about a whale in distress, a Canadian Press news report says. The 33-foot whale was caught in fishing lines and a large orange buoy, and was apparently thrashing near the surface in an attempt to free itself.

As the frigate crew launched two small boats to help free the ailing whale by cutting the lines, which were attached to the buoy and a number of crab pots below the surface, the report says. “I couldn’t believe the size of it — he was three times longer than our boat,” a crewmember says in the report. “We were a little concerned about letting the boat get close, let alone letting our divers get in.”

After more than an hour, a pair of divers managed to cut a line that was caught under the whale’s stomach, freeing it, according to the report. The whale swam away slowly and joined two other humpback whales nearby.

Jason Fell