Featured Image Credit: Youtube
By: Kira Krall
An orca whale making a pit stop near Vancouver came under quite the travel delay. The fishing gear it became entangled in was thankfully stripped away by human responders after over five hours of attempting to free itself. Watch a news clip showing footage from the encounter and rescue, and read about the story below!
The large male is considered a transient orca, whose pods move around from place to place. Resident pods are just that: residents of their given location that rarely move around the map. Researchers can identify individuals by their patterns, fins, and scars. From there, they can figure out what kind of pod they belong to.
Our orca-in-distress was a passerby that got snagged in a long line attached to 50 prawn traps designed to catch the small shrimp-like creatures. Locals and fishers Suzanne Ambers and Keith Simpson noticed the Orca first, and the distressed buking second. His repeated surfacing and tugging on the fishing gear was tiring him out by the minute.
Ambers and Simpson reported the trapped whale to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Once responders arrived, they carefully approached the 20-foot long mammal and tugged at the ropes until the orca wiggled free. After his great escape, he breached to celebrate his freedom and took off to open water.
Overall, entanglements are on the rise. In 2016, 71 whales were reported entangled along the west coast of the United States alone. Large commercial fishing gear, like the prawn line our Vancouver orca got caught in, is often the culprit. Of the 48 entanglements confirmed by NOAA in 2016, 29 whales were trapped in fishing gear.