When nearly 200 people set sail on a whale watch from Bar Harbor, Maine, they never expected to be party to a whale rescue. Yet, that is exactly what happened on a sunny afternoon in early June.
A vessel owned by Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, a member of NOAA Fisheries Whale Sense Program, was having trouble finding whales.
So, Captains Brain Silverman and Bryce Moody, decided to travel farther than normal into Canadian waters. Two hours later, they came across a nine-year-old entangled humpback whale. “We were near the entrance to the Bay of Fundy, when we spotted what looked like a bunch of balloons. They turned out to be buoys attached to fishing gear. The whale was caught in ropes and seemed to be anchored in place,” said Bar Harbor Whale Watch naturalist Zack Klyver. “We immediately notified the Canadian Coast Guard and whale rescue team to relay our position and our assessment of the whale’s condition.”
The whale watch vessel stood by for nearly two hours, extending what typically is a four hour trip to seven hours. During this time, they provided reports and upon returning, pictures to the Coast Guard and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The information the Bar Harbor-based vessel shared helped whale biologists understand how the whale was doing and what they should do help it.
The next morning a rescue team headed up by Campobello fisherman Mackie Green, including Canadian government officials, and biologists from the Campobello Whale Rescue Team and International Fund for Animal Welfare were able to successfully free the animal.
To learn more about the Whale Sense program, go to www.whalesense.org.