Two Virginia Beach fishermen based out of Rudee Inlet rescued an endangered right whale over the weekend, about 50 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. That's according to their story on TheWildLyfe.com.
Captain "Pat Foster" and Mate "Adrian Colaprete", of the "Wave Runner" were helping a team of scientists conduct research studies offshore. Pat spotted a whale swimming irregularly in the distance and decided to have a closer look. The team identified the whale as an endangered species of the Northern Right Whale and saw that the whale was in serious danger. The whale was tangled in some fishing ropes or trap line and was slowly dragging the fishing gear behind it, according to the report.
Pat and Adrian decided they would have to assess the situation a little further and find out if they could do something to help the whale. After patterning the whale's movements, the team decided Adrian would get in the water with the whale and take a closer look. When Adrian swam up to the whale, he sensed the whale was welcoming his help and he made the decision to cut the rope tangling the whale to the line of fishing gear. After the rope was cut, the tangled fishing gear sank to the bottom of the ocean and the whale swam away free.
Federal law prohibits anyone without a permit to approach the Endangered Northern Right Whale.
The Virginia Aquarium has issued the following statement regarding the rescue and entanglement of marine animals.
The Endangered Species Act, a federal law, prohibits approaching a right whale closer than 500 yards unless permitted by the National Maine Fisheries Service.
The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team responds to entanglements of whales, dolphins and sea turtles in the Mid-Atlantic. They are officially authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and have received essential training for disentanglement of these animals as it can be a highly dangerous operation. Disentanglement response also requires visual (drawings and images) and lengthy documentation submitted to NMFS which is critical for research and the conservation of these animals. Additionally, entangled gear is normally collected during these events and further investigated.
All marine animal and sea turtle strandings, whether on land or in the sea (including entanglements), should be reported to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response 24-hour Hot Line, 757 385-7575.
There is also a Marine Animal Entanglement Hot Line: 1-866-755-NOAA (6622).
Photo, video courtesy of The Wild Lyfe