The Center for Coastal Studies is headquartered in Provincetown and is an ever constant presence in the coastal waters. Their mission is “To conduct scientific research with emphasis on marine mammals of the western North Atlantic and on the coastal and marine habitats and resources of the Gulf of Maine; to promote stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems; to conduct educational activities and to provide educational resources that encourage the responsible use and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems; and to collaborate with other institutions and individuals whenever possible to advance the Center’s mission.”
An article from the Gloucester Times this week highlights the amazing and life changing work that they do to keep the influence of man from destroying a species. Read more below:
Foggy the humpback whale is swimming freely in the Atlantic Ocean again.
The 29-year-old whale, entangled in fishing gear about 4 miles off the coast of Gloucester and Rockport, was freed after a more than nine-hour rescue effort Wednesday involving Massachusetts Environmental Police and a Cape Cod-based marine research group.
Scott Landry, director of the Marine Entanglement Response Team at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, said a crew of six people from his agency went to the scene off Thacher Island after an unidentified lobsterman from Rockport had called to report that the whale appeared snared in a number of fishing lines. Landry said the team worked to free the whale from the gear while the crew aboard the Environmental Police patrol boat Thomas Paine secured an area in which the rescuers could work.
Landry said the crew found that Foggy, as identified by center researchers, had been caught in two sets of fishing gear, and one set of lines had circled her entire body, digging in about 3 to 4 inches. He said the humpback measures about 40 to 45 feet in length and weighs around 50 tons.
“To use a metpahor,” Landry said, “it would be the same as if you had a collar on a puppy and then never changed the collar as the puppy grew.” He said the lines had created lacerations left open to bleeding and infection, adding that Foggy also appeared thin from her ordeal.
“She was dying very slowly,” he said. “It appeared this entanglement has been on her for weeks to months, not days.
It was also clear that she had been free swimming with her original entanglements, but then dragged that into more gear off Thacher Island.”
That was when the whale became essentially anchored, he said.
While parts of the “collar” around the whale remain, Foggy was able to resume free swimming, Landry said, most likely bound for her usual summer spot in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.
“We dulled or broke every knife in our kit and every teammate worked their fingers to the bone for this whale,” Landry said. “Short of removing her from the ocean and performing surgery, we did everything humanly possible for this animal.”
Landry said Foggy is not “out of the woods” in terms of survival.
“If we don’t see her in the Bay of Fundy, we’ll worry,” Landry said.
This is the second time that this whale has been disentangled; the first time was in September 2013, in the Bay of Fundy, off Nova Scotia with the MAER team working alongside the Campobello Whale Rescue Team.
Landry said that the center was encouraged by the fact that a commercial fishing crew had called in to report Foggy’s latest entanglement, and stayed with her as rescuers arrived.
“We understand that fishermen are reticent to deal with whale entanglements (in fishing gear),” he said, “but at the same time, (reporting the whale’s plight) is the right thing to do — and they did the right thing.”
Mariners are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles and other marine animals to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline at 1-800-900-3622 or the US Coast Guard, and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.