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Scientist's Successfully Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale

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Published on Jan 25, 2011

Credit: With permission from Georgia Department of Natural Resource

Watch a scientist from NOAA's response agency partner (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) use a long pole with attached knife and buoy to help cut the remaining ropes from a young sedated North Atlantic right whale on January 15 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The young female whale, born during the 2008-2009 calving season and estimated to be approximately 30 feet long, was originally observed entangled on Christmas Day by an aerial survey team. On December 30, a disentanglement team of trained responders from Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were able to remove 150 feet of rope from the whale, but additional rope remained. NOAA and its partners continued to track the animal via satellite tag to determine if the animal would shed the remaining gear on its own. Calm weather conditions were necessary before attempting further intervention on January 15.

During this response, scientists used for the first time a special digital monitoring tag which recorded the whale's behavior before, during, and after sedation. Sedating large whales at sea is in its infancy and data collected from the digital archival tag will be used to inform future sedation attempts that may be necessary. After disentangling the whale, scientists administered a dose of antibiotics to treat entanglement wounds and drug to reverse the sedation. The whale will be tracked up to 30-days via a temporary satellite tag.

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