What to Know
The whale was freed Wednesday and wasn't harmed
In November, officials tried to cut the line but were unable to do so entirely, according to a news release
Crews have successfully disentangled a humpback whale that got caught in material in waters off New Jersey.
The juvenile whale — estimated to be more than 30-feet-long — was freed Wednesday. It had been spotted in the Raritan and Sandy Hook bays in recent days.
Officials say the whale had a piece of gill net — a type of netting used in commercial fishing — wrapped around its mouth, forming a closed loop around its blowhole.
In November, officials tried to cut the line but were unable to do so entirely, according to a news release. A piece of the net was still stuck around the whale’s upper jaw.
Responders were unable to find the whale again until recently. The line became tighter as the animal grew.
“If left alone, the animal had no chance,” said David Morin, NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Coordinator, in a statement. “The whale would have died a slow and painful death. Even in response, the tight wrap left such a small area—about a foot or two wide—that we could cut.”
Numerous responders — including federal, state and local authorities and a disentanglement team from the nonprofit Center for Coastal Studies — worked together Wednesday to free the whale. They used a custom-designed hook-shaped knife, attached to a roughly 15-foot-long pole, to slice the piece of netting.
The whale was not harmed.
New legislation in California was proposed with the intention of phasing out similar mile-long fishing nets that have put animals in danger.