Nova Scotia

Humpback whales tangled in rope off Nova Scotia coast

Rescue teams have been unable to free two humpback whales spotted in distress last week off the Nova Scotia coast.

2 whales spotted in distress off Ingonish and in Bay of Fundy

A Nova Scotia whale watching crew and a rescue team tried to free an entangled humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy off last week but the whale didn't cooperate. (Submitted by Max Gagnon)

Searchers are still hoping to locate two humpback whales entangled in fishing lines off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The Marine Animal Response Society said one whale was spotted off Cape Breton, while the other was seen in the Bay of Fundy.

Co-ordinator Andrew Reid was part of a team that went out to an area off Ingonish on Sunday in hopes of finding a whale spotted trailing a buoy with rope around its tail.

Jess Tudor, a whale watcher with the Brier Island Lodge, said the whale spotted in the Bay of Fundy made sounds that indicated it was in distress. (Jess Tudor/Submitted)

"It did appear that there was some weight on the end of the rope. It would slow the whale down. It never lifted its tail out," said Reid. "It could start digging into the skin, cause infections. Or it might just inhibit it from eating properly."

The whale was spotted last week between Neil's Cove and Wreck Cove.

Reid said fisheries officers found it at one point and tried to untangle it, but the whale didn't co-operate.

It was spotted again over the weekend, but rough seas made searching difficult on Sunday, said Reid.

He said local whale-watch operators in both areas are keeping an eye out for the distressed whales. The society believes they are two different ones.

Whale 'very evasive'

Rescue teams spent several hours last week trying to free a whale with rope around its dorsal fin off Brier Island.

"It was being very evasive and not giving them the opportunity to get the gear off," Reid said.

Jess Tudor works with the Brier Island Lodge as a whale watcher, and was on the water when something unusual was spotted last Thursday.

"He was obviously in distress because he was going down for 14 minutes on average. When he blew out, exhaled, there was a loud what they call trumpeting, stressful noise," he said. "There was a little bit of rope on his back you could see, and there was some chaffage along his back."

Tudor said whale-watching crews hadn't seen an entangled whale in that area for several years.

Humpback whales are considered a species of special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act.