Members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network are asking for help from the public in locating a humpback whale entangled in fishing gear in the Stephens Passage/Lynn Canal area near Juneau.
The whale was first spotted Wednesday by Gastineau Guiding tour operators between Coghlan and Stick Islands, just outside of Auke Bay. It was traveling west at 3-4 miles per hour, with a big yellow buoy trailing about 5-8 feet behind the blowhole. The animal didn’t appear to be distressed and was breathing about every three minutes.
The whale was also spotted Wednesday by biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as they were conducting a herring survey near the southeast tip of Shelter Island.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, NOAA scientists including a veterinarian, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, mounted an effort to re-locate the animal to assess if the entanglement was life threatening, and to determine if intervention was warranted. They have been unable to re-locate the whale.
All mariners are asked to keep a sharp look out for the whale, and to report sightings to NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding hotline at 877-925-7773 or the Coast Guard at 463-2000 or on Channel 16.