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Entangled humpback whale cleared of marine debris off Maui

HONOLULU (AP) – A female humpback whale travelling with a male and a calf has been freed after it was found entangled in a line with a large bundle of marine debris attached.

The whale was freed on Monday while swimming in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary off Maui, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement on Tuesday. The calf and male weren’t entangled.

There was more than 152 metres of line that was wrapped tightly around the humpback’s head.

“Once freed, the mother and her calf went into resting behaviour, with the calf tucking under the mother’s chin. The successful response increased the survival chances for both the mother and her calf,” NOAA said in a statement.

The line was tangled with various kinds of marine debris that accumulates in the waters around Hawaii.

“The debris included a dozen different types of lines and netting,” the statement said, with at least 9.14 metres of thick line estimated to be at least 3.8 centimetres thick. “While the gear sunk out of reach and couldn’t be recovered, responders obtained critical documentation of the removed gear to determine its possible origins.”

An entangled humpback whale in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary off Maui. PHOTO: AP
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