NOAA responds to entangled whale in Unalaska’s Iliuliuk Bay

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NOAA is partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to get underwater footage of the entangled whale in Iliuliuk Bay. (Sofia Stuart-Rasi/KUCB)

The Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network is working with local responders to gather images and information to coordinate helping an entangled humpback in Unalaska’s Iliuliuk Bay.

“They’ll be using a GoPro pole cam to get some underwater footage of the entanglement so that we can get some more intel on how bad the entanglement might be,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesperson Julie Fair.

The whale was first reported Monday evening, Fair said. However, she said as of Tuesday afternoon, NOAA officials still weren’t certain what type of gear the whale was stuck in.

The entanglement goes through the mouth and includes the tail, so it appears that the whale is hogtied,” Fair said.

NOAA is partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to get underwater footage of the whale Tuesday afternoon, she said. From there, NOAA will plan its response.

Despite the entanglement, the whale seems to be doing okay.

“We can see that it is able to surface to breathe regularly,” Fair said. “And it appears to be in good condition, though. We are pretty confident that it will be okay until we can get some more information on how severe the entanglement is and plan a response.”

According to Fair, whales are known to survive entanglements for long periods.

In the meantime, she said they’re asking locals to give the whale some space.

“Entangled whales can be very unpredictable and dangerous so we are asking the public, for their own safety and for the safety of the whale, that they could please stay at least 100 yards from the whale,” Fair said. “And if they have additional information about the whale to please contact the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network.”

The network can be reached on its 24/7 hotline at 1-877-925-7773.

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