A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

A Rare Whale, belonging to one of the most endangered species, is facing imminent death following an unfortunate


incident. The endangered Blue Whale, the largest animal on Earth, was reportedly found entangled in a

fishing net

off the coast of Monterey Bay, California. According to the

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

, the whale was spotted by a team of researchers on Tuesday, March 15th. The team immediately reported the sighting to NOAA’s

Southwest Fisheries Science Center


The entanglement poses a serious threat to the whale’s survival as it could cause injuries, exhaustion, starvation, or even drowning. NOAA and other organizations are working closely to assess the situation and devise a plan for rescuing the whale. The team is carefully monitoring the whale from a distance, observing its behavior, and tracking its movements. They are also consulting with local fishermen to gather more information about the location of the net and any potential hazards in the area.

The entanglement of a blue whale is a rare but significant occurrence, underscoring the importance of mitigating human impacts on these vulnerable marine mammals. The Blue Whale population has only recently recovered from the brink of extinction, with an estimated 2,500 individuals worldwide. NOAA urges mariners and fishermen to report any sightings of entangled whales or other marine life to the organization’s stranding network. Together, we can help protect these majestic creatures and ensure their continued survival for future generations.

A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

I. Introduction

The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is a critically endangered baleen whale species that inhabits the North Atlantic Ocean. Described as large and gray, adults can reach lengths of up to 15 meters (49 feet) and weigh around 70 tonnes (77 short tons). They have two long, bowed upper lips and no dorsal fin, which made them an easy target for whaling operations in the past.

Brief Overview of the North Atlantic Right Whale Species

Physically, they are characterized by their large, concave lower jaws, which contain 200-300 baleen plates used for filter feeding. Their population, once numbering around 10,000 individuals in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, has drastically declined due to commercial whaling. Today, there are only an estimated 350-400 individuals remaining, making them one of the most endangered large whale species on Earth.

Significance of the North Atlantic Right Whale to Marine Ecosystems

As a keystone species, the North Atlantic right whale plays an essential role in maintaining the health and balance of the marine ecosystem. Their feeding behavior contributes to the redistribution of nutrients throughout the food chain, which benefits various organisms, including other whale species and fish populations.

Role as a keystone species

The right whale is considered a top predator in its ecosystem due to its large size and feeding habits. Its diet primarily consists of zooplankton, especially copepods and krill – organisms that are also important food sources for many other marine species. By consuming large quantities of these prey items, the right whale helps to control their populations, which in turn affects other animals that feed on them.

Economic and Cultural Importance

Beyond their ecological role, the North Atlantic right whale holds significant economic and cultural importance. Tourism related to observing these magnificent creatures generates millions of dollars annually in revenue. Additionally, traditional fishing communities have a deep connection to the whale and its habitat, often considering it an integral part of their heritage and way of life.

Importance of Monitoring and Conserving the North Atlantic Right Whale Population

Given their endangered status, it is crucial to continuously monitor and conserve the North Atlantic right whale population. Effective conservation efforts include minimizing human disturbances, implementing regulations to limit ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear, and addressing climate change impacts on their food sources. It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy the benefits and beauty of these magnificent creatures and the marine ecosystems they inhabit.

A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

The Entangled Whale:

Background and Current Condition

The entangled whale, a female humpback whale named “Makani”, was first identified in October 2019, off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. She is approximately 35 years old, making her a mature whale in her species.

Description of the entangled whale

The entanglement involves multiple ropes and buoys, some of which are estimated to be around 9 meters (30 feet) long. The ropes have become deeply embedded in Makani’s body, encircling her flippers, tailstock, and around her head and jaw.

Detailed account of the entanglement and its impact on the whale’s health

The impact on Makani’s health is severe. The ropes cause constant irritation, leading to wounds and injuries. The cuts are raw, some deep enough to expose bone, and they’re prone to infection. In addition, the entanglement hampers her swimming speed and energy levels, as the ropes restrict her movements and make it challenging for her to dive or feed effectively.

Types and locations of ropes and buoys

The ropes are attached to at least three buoys, which are used by local fishermen for crab and lobster potting. The location of the entanglement near a busy fishing area suggests that the ropes were likely not intentionally thrown onto the whale but instead got tangled in her as she swam through the area.

Injuries sustained and their severity

The injuries include cutting wounds, chafe marks, and possible tissue damage from the ropes’ constant dragging on her skin. These injuries are not only painful but also increase Makani’s risk of infection, as they provide entry points for bacteria to enter her body.

Current condition of the whale

Makani’s behavior patterns and feeding ability have been affected by her entanglement. She exhibits unusual behaviors, such as remaining near the surface for extended periods or swimming with her flippers trailing behind her instead of propelling herself forward. Her feeding ability is significantly reduced due to her energy loss and inability to maneuver effectively in the water.

The efforts to help the entangled whale

Efforts are ongoing to help Makani, with support from various organizations, including NOAA and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Drones and helicopters have been used to assess her situation, and teams are considering various strategies to disentangle her safely. However, due to the complexity of the entanglement and Makani’s size (approximately 12 meters or 39 feet long), disentangling her is a challenging process that requires careful planning and execution.

A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

I Prognosis and Implications for Conservation

Potential causes of the entanglement:

  • Human activities: The primary cause of entanglement for North Atlantic right whales is human-related, specifically from fishing gear and shipping activities. Fishing lines with buoys and traps pose significant risks, as they can become entangled around a whale’s body or tail. Shipping traffic also poses threats through strikes with propellers and underwater structures.
  • Natural causes: Although less common, entanglement can also occur due to storms or underwater obstacles. These natural causes can result in severe injuries and even death, but human interaction remains the more significant concern.

Impact of the entanglement on the population and conservation efforts:

  1. Increased awareness: The occurrence of entanglement incidents underscores the need to reduce human interactions with North Atlantic right whales. This includes implementing stricter regulations for fishing and shipping industries, as well as increased public awareness of the importance of protecting this endangered species.
  2. Enhanced collaboration: International cooperation between governments, organizations, and communities plays a crucial role in mitigating risks and protecting North Atlantic right whales. Collaborative efforts include sharing information on sightings, implementing technology to prevent entanglements (such as acoustic monitoring systems), and providing resources for response teams in case of an emergency.

Prognosis for the entangled whale’s survival:

  • Assessing chances of recovery: The prognosis for the entangled whale’s survival depends on various factors, including the severity of the injuries and the length of time spent entangled. Analyzing previous cases and the current condition of the whale can help assess the chances of recovery.
  • Acting quickly: Acting quickly is essential in saving the whale or minimizing suffering if euthanasia is considered necessary. Rescue teams must respond promptly to free the animal from its entanglement, providing it with necessary medical attention and support during recovery.

A whale belonging to one of the rarest species is ‘likely to die,’ after entanglement, NOAA says

Future Steps and Continued Efforts Towards Conservation

Measures to prevent future entanglements

  1. Monitoring and reporting incidents of entanglement: Regular surveillance and documentation of entanglement cases are crucial for understanding the scope and frequency of the problem. This data can be used to inform mitigation measures and assess their effectiveness.
  2. Collaboration between stakeholders: The cooperation of various sectors, including fisheries, shipping industries, and conservation organizations, is essential for implementing effective measures to reduce entanglement risks. This may include the development and enforcement of regulations, the use of technology to detect and avoid whale presence in fishing areas, and the sharing of best practices and resources.

Adaptive management practices

  1. Regular assessment and adaptation of conservation strategies: As new information becomes available, it is essential to reassess and adapt conservation strategies accordingly. This includes updating regulations, refining monitoring methods, and adjusting mitigation measures as needed.
  2. Ongoing research: Continuous research is necessary to better understand the needs and behaviors of North Atlantic right whales. This includes studies on their feeding, migration patterns, social structures, and response to various threats.

Public engagement and education on the importance of protecting this species

  1. Encouraging support for conservation initiatives: Public campaigns and partnerships with schools, media, and communities can help raise awareness about the importance of protecting North Atlantic right whales. This includes promoting initiatives that support sustainable fishing practices, reducing plastic pollution, and encouraging responsible shipping behavior.
  2. Raising awareness: It is essential to educate the public about the threats faced by North Atlantic right whales and the importance of their role in the marine ecosystem. This can be done through public campaigns, educational programs, and media outreach.