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Dec 15 2015

Entanglements Impact on Whales

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

Whale gets tired out by the drag of entangled fishing gearA report has just come out that quantifies how much drag is produced on Atlantic right whales when they become entangled in fishing gear.  While the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution report is solely focused on right whales, I think we can assume that the impacts will be very similar for other whales.

Here on the West Coast of the US, the vast majority of entanglements happened to gray and humpback whales.  According to a different study that was published in 2013, 48% of entanglements along our coast can be attributed to either lobster traps or crab traps.

For as yet unknown reasons, we have seen a four times increase in whale entanglements this year on the West Coast.  Typically, we will get 12-14 per year, but have had over 60 reported sightings and 45 confirmed entanglements! This is not acceptable.

You can see from these images our friends at NOAA shared with us, that whales will continue to dive and swim pulling tangled masses of lines and buoys.

Ghost gear drags on a whale's ability to swim and dive

This latest report clearly states what we at ODA know is true: it is crucial to get as much of this gear out of the water as possible.  That is what ODA is all about.  To date, we have removed 287 lobster traps and over 23,000 feet of trap lines.  We have a boat generously donated by Mr. Bob Barker and with our volunteer Dive & Boat Crew, we will continue remove this deadly ghost gear.

Your donation will help save whales from the fate of entanglement. With the continued support of our volunteers and donors, we will be out there doing what we do best!

 
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