2014 Florida Volunteer Updates

As the North Atlantic right whales migrate to the South Georgia/Northern Florida coast each winter volunteers help watch for and capture critical details related to this endangered species. This information helps scientists track the fate of the species and acts as a first alert system to pilots in the shipping lanes to avoid accidental killings. This blog shares the findings, photos and other pertinent information gathered from the Palm Coast Sector Volunteer Team while helping to connect and communicate the many ways we can protect the right whales and sustain our wonderful ocean life.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two Humpbacks Saved Off Cape Cod in Two Days

This just in from Cape Cod...The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies added two more whales to the more than 90 that have been saved by their entanglement release team since it was established in 1984.  

The latest successful entanglement release occurred yesterday off Chatham on Cape Cod. Typically tilled with rough seas, the narrow inlet and tricky tidal currents surrounding Chatham bars is tough to maneuver for even the most experienced, but it was especially rough for a humpback whale that was found entangled by a line wrapped around its mouth and attached to heavy gear on the sea floor.

But a team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Disentanglement Team as well as local fishermen, the U.S. Coastguard and a few recreational boaters, jumped into action and was able to release the whale by using a grappling hook and a thirty foot pole with a knife attached to cut and release the whale. This was the second entanglement release off of Cape Cod in the last two days.

This is great news for the whales and the Cape Cod team. As you know, Cape Cod has a rich history of whaling yet is is now creating a new history focused on education, research and helping to rescue the very whales that were once its lively hood. In fact, it was the staff of The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies that first developed the technique used today to disentangle whales, a process based on an old whaling process called kegging whereby they use large floats called kegs (similar to the ones used in JAWS) to keep the whale buoyant and relatively stable creating a safer environment to detangle the whales.

This historic technique and connection reached its way down to Florida in 1996 when The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies was called upon to help rescue a northern right whale entangled off the coast of Florida. This highlighted the need to expand the rescue program to include the entire east coast which helped to establish The Marine Resources Council Right Whale Monitoring Program here in Florida. Then in 2001 another Cape Cod based organization became involved when the Associated Scientists at Woods Hole founded the Marineland Right Whale Project and our citizen volunteer program was born. 

And while on paper it may be a bit confusing to see, especially when out there alone on watch during many a cold wintry morning, we are part of a vast team of vigilant volunteers, scientists, educators, fishermen and citizens dotting America's coastline all with one common goal - to help protect and save these remaining whales.  A team with a connection that runs far beyond a grappling hooks reach and keeps us all on watch and at the ready. 

For more information & related Links:
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
The Pegasus Foundation
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services
Marine Resources Council RW Monitoring Program
Marineland Right Whale Project
Associated Scientists at Woods Hole
Georgia Aquarium

Photo: Chatham fishing boat, Chatham inlet, copyright Christine Sullivan