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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 7, 2010

Search under way for entangled humpback whale

Advertiser Staff

Marine experts were searching the waters off the Kona Coast for a humpback whale entangled in polypropylene line, deflated buoys and other fishing gear, West Hawaii Today reported.

Officials warned against anyone trying to free the whale themselves. Disentangling the 45-ton creatures is extremely dangerous and requires a special permit.

While conducting a whale watching tour, Casey Cho of Adventure X Rafting first spotted and followed the tangled whale Monday afternoon about a mile off Hapuna Beach.

"The rope had deeply cut through the flesh of the whale in three places. In some areas, the flesh had grown over the ropes. It was very upsetting and sad to see such a horrible ordeal happening to a beautiful creature," Cho said.

Capt. Beth Goodwin, of Liquid Robotics, relieved Cho and continued following the whale in her vessel until response teams from the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on the Big Island and Maui arrived.

The sanctuary crews were able to briefly assess the whale, thought to be an adult, and its situation just before dark. They placed a satellite tag on the animal to track its movements and decided to postpone the rescue effort until early Tuesday morning, said Justin Viezbicke, marine conservation coordinator for NOAA's Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.