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Entangled whale rescued near Brier Island

An entangled whale calf was rescued off of Brier Island on July 14.
An entangled whale calf was rescued off of Brier Island on July 14. - Contributed

BRIER ISLAND, N.S.- A New Brunswick whale rescue team helped free a whale calf entangled in rope off of Brier Island on July 14.

Campobello Whale Rescue Team was dispatched and with the help of Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises and the Coast Guard Cutter Westport, they were able to free the calf and reunite it with its mother.

Around noon on July 14 Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises were out on a whale watching trip when the crew and passengers noticed two whales, one whale was tangled in rope.

“The passengers were very concerned, all of our hearts were in our throats,” said Shelley Lonergan, chief naturalist and research specialist with the whale watching company.

They called the Marine Animal Response Society who called in the Campobello Whale Rescue Team.

The rope was wrapped around the whale’s head and if it wasn’t rescued, it could have died, said Lonergan.

“If those whales didn’t approach us, we would have never seen the entanglement.”

The last entanglement she remembers witnessing on a whale watching trip was in 2016.

“It’s not common, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”

Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises stayed with the whale until the coast guard arrived, then the coast guard boat stayed until it was rescued.

“When a rescue is underway they really rely on other boats to standby, so we don’t lose the whales,” she said.

The Coast Guard Cutter Westport assisted Campobello Whale Rescue Team with the rescue.

“It was pretty amazing to watch,” said Peter Milhausen with the Coast Guard Cutter Westport.

“The mom was really nervous for the boat to get close to them but once it was free they were on their way,” he added.

The rescue took nearly four hours.

NOTE TO READERS: In the print version of this story that appears in the July 18 issue of the Tri-County Vanguard, the whale watching company that Shelley Lonergan is associated with was mis-identified. It was, as this online version states, Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises – not Marine Cruises Whale and Seaboard Tours. Unfortunately we became of the error after the newspaper had been sent to print and weren't able to make the correction before it hit the newsstands. We apologize for the error.

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