Humpback Whale Freed From Life-Threatening Plastic

Federal officials saved a whale near Maui after realizing it was trapped in mooring gear.

Last week off the coast of Hawaii, a humpback whale was discovered to be in danger. "The animal's behavior was very evasive, and while it stayed near the surface, it maintained unusually rapid speeds, at times in excess of six knots," the agency said in a statement. 

Because it is a federal crime to approach a humpback whale, the team was working under federal permit so trained responders could get close enough. They used an inflatable boat to cut the gear off with a blade attached to a pole.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a rescue team cut off about 140 feet of small-gauge line that was wrapped around the whale’s tail and fins, and a plastic trawling buoy that was floating behind.

Officials say the yearling’s flesh was being cut into from the line, but was ultimately in good condition. 

Now that the whale has been safely freed from the entanglement, the gear is being analyzed to determine where it came from.

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