Nfld. & Labrador

Entangled humpback on the move in Newfoundland waters

A humpback whale which entangled itself into fishing nets off the coast of Newfoundland has traveled a great distance with the gear, says a whale rescue group.
The animal is entangled in fishing gear, and towing a medium-sized orange balloon about 100 metres behind itself. (Submitted photo)

A humpback whale has been making good speed travelling around the coast of Newfoundland — all while being caught up in crab fishing gear.

Wayne Ledwell of the Whale Release and Strandings group said the humpback got itself caught in fishing gear near Bar Haven in Placentia Bay sometime between Tuesday and Saturday of last week, and has since moved to the New-Wes-Valley area. 

On Wednesday, Ledwell told CBC's The Broadcast the animal has travelled over 120 nautical miles, at about seven knots - and has evaded rescuers. 

"That's about as fast as one of those longliners go, so there's not much [a rescuer] can do when you're in a situation like that." 

Hauling gear

The whale is tangled in fishing gear and is towing an orange fishing balloon — which is making the animal possible to track.

Ledwell said Bonavista search and rescue boaters spotted the humpback Tuesday night, and it was moving even further north.

The whale rescue organizer said his group has made several efforts to free the animal from its entanglements, but they have not been able to pin it down.

"Hopefully it finds some food and hangs up in an area and the weather is stable enough where we can actually go out and get the gear out of it," he said.

He added the lines appear to be trapped on the whale's mouth, which might make it impossible for the animal to eat.

Dangerous lines

While Ledwell is waiting for some good weather — and good luck —to nab the whale, he's warning other boaters to keep their distance.

He said the animal is hauling about 100 metres of line, which could get tangled and begin to haul on boats as well.

"Those animals are very powerful, it could be a dangerous situation."

"They could swamp your boat."

Anyone who sees the animal is asked to contact their local DFO detachment, or the Whale Release and Strandings group.

With files from The Broadcast