A marine mammal stranding team in Southeast Alaska is asking for the public’s help in locating a humpback whale caught in an anchor line near Admiralty Island, south of Juneau. The 40-foot-long adult humpback was first reported on Wednesday morning, June 1st towing an anchor, line and buoys in Seymour Canal on the eastern side of Admiralty Island.
Julie Speegle, a spokesperson for NOAA Fisheries, said a five-person team from the marine mammal stranding network found the whale near Windfall and Swan Islands Wednesday afternoon.
“So our team really watched it, assessed its behavior,” she said. “It seemed to be swimming mostly with it’s pectoral fins and they watched it dive. There was no entanglement on the whale that they could see. There were attempts to free the whale from the line but because the weather deteriorated they had to call off their efforts.”
The whale was last seen swimming south toward the mouth of Seymour Canal. The animal is towing about 150 feet of yellow floating line, an anchor and two buoys, one orange and one pink. Speegle said the team is hoping to go back out and free the gear from the whale. Any mariners in the area who see the humpback are asked to call the marine mammal stranding network.
“Definitely if people see it to stay their distance and call our responders,” Speegle said, adding, “they are trained to deal with these large marine mammals and they have procedures and specialized tools to free them. So don’t try to free the whale yourself. Please call us.”
The Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network Hotline number is 877-925-7773. Boaters can also report a sighting to the US Coast Guard on VHF channel 16. They’re looking for a report of the whale’s latitude, longitude and direction of travel.