Concern grows for injured humpback calf Print E-mail
Monday, 23 March 2009 20:55
By Amanda Dale, Royal Gazette

This Humpback whale calf has been seen in Bermuda waters with a rope wrapped around its head. Experts have given the calf little chance of survival. Its mother is in an emaciated state, presumably from trying to protect the bleeding calf.

Photo : Andrew Stevenson

 

Conservationists are urging fishermen and marine users to refrain from dumping objects in the ocean after a humpback calf was seen caught entangled in a rope.

The calf was spotted last week with its mother in the waters of Bermuda, with a green polypropylene rope wrapped around its head and mouth. Due to the nature of the entanglement, experts have not given it much chance of survival.

Andrew Stevenson, of the Bermuda Humpback Whale Film Project, said: "We've been looking for the calf since last Sunday (March 15) but haven't been able to find it.

"I have spoken to entanglement experts at the Center for Coastal Studies but they say there is very little chance it will survive."

He said the mother also had a shark bite in her tail fluke, indicating she had become so weak she was unable to fend off the predator.

"The mother was extremely emaciated," he said. "I would guess she has been protecting the calf, which has been bleeding due to the entanglement.

"I believe the rope has cut into the baleen plates of its mouth, and if they get ripped, the calf will then be unable to feed."

 

Mr. Stevenson said experts are needed to disentangle large marine mammals due to the unpredictable nature of these creatures. It needs experts to release these animals," he said. "I'm not afraid of getting into the water with them but when they are distressed like this, there is no telling how they will react."

He said the rope was about an inch thick and appeared to have originally had some floats attached.

"It might be cargo netting or a line to float, such as a net," said Mr. Stevenson.

"We have to be very careful about throwing things into the ocean as these animals can get tangled up. Plastic bags look like jellyfish to turtles, while these ropes are a hazard for humpback whales. These entanglements are a major factor in their death."

Earlier this month a loggerhead turtle died after ingesting a fishing line and hook. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) staff appealed to fishermen to dispose of line responsibly rather than leaving it as a hazard to marine life.

Last month staff also rescued a stranded seal which washed up near Ariel Sands with a deep laceration to its neck caused by monofilament line.

If anyone sees the mother and entangled calf, or would like to report any other whale sightings, contact Mr. Stevenson at: 77-SPOUT (777-7688) or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can follow his findings at the website: whalesbermuda.com.


 
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