Northwest Digest

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2006

Humpback entangled in fishing gear freed

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JUNEAU - A team of marine experts freed a humpback whale that had spent four days entangled in fishing gear in Chatham Strait.

The last lines were cut away Tuesday, said Sheela McLean, a fisheries spokeswoman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A second whale was reported entangled in lines near Haines. Another was reported near southern Admiralty Island, and a fourth whale was spotted Wednesday morning near Angoon.

A dead humpback whale with fishing gear attached to it was found on a beach on southern Admiralty Island last weekend.

Captain relieved of duty after divers die

SEATTLE - The captain of the Coast Guard cutter Healy has been temporarily relieved of duty following the deaths of two crew members during a dive in the Arctic Ocean this month.

Capt. Douglas G. Russell will be replaced by Capt. Daniel K. Oliver, a previous commanding officer of the Seattle-based Healy, as the investigation into the deaths continues, the Coast Guard said in a news release Wednesday. Russell had been in charge of the ship since June.

The Coast Guard has released few details about the Aug. 17 dive 500 miles north of Barrow, Alaska, involving Lt. Jessica Hill, 31, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque, 22, of Miami.

Initially, the Coast Guard reported that the two died after they entered the water to examine the ship's rudder - a common procedure as the ship operates in Arctic ice - but Petty Officer 1st Class Russ Tippets, a Coast Guard spokesman in Alameda, Calif., said Wednesday they actually were just taking a cold-water training dive.

Tourists not worried about water shortage

TOFINO, British Columbia - The recliners in front of the Wickaninnish Inn were full of sunbathers Wednesday, apparently unconcerned about the panic among hotel and business owners ordered to shut down by Friday due to a severe water shortage in this Vancouver Island resort town.

Members of the Chamber of Commerce huddled Wednesday in an effort to come up with a plan, but most business operators were trying to cope on their own.

The town notified businesses Tuesday afternoon they would have to shut their doors to conserve water for residential use. On Thursday, the council planned to pass a bylaw enforcing the order.

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