Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2019AUG - Leaderboard 3

New online course for spotting and reporting entangled whales in Alaska Waters

by NOAA Fisheries 11 Oct 05:49 UTC
NOAA Fisheries' John Moran reaches with a pole to cut a line entangling a humpback whale in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. © NOAA Fisheries

Highly-trained responders depend on boating community to be "eyes and ears" on the water.

The foundation of responding to entangled whales is the on-water community. NOAA's Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network depends on recreational and commercial boaters and other ocean users for spotting and reporting entangled whales off Alaska's coast. That's one reason NOAA Fisheries has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to develop a new online training course to help them report entanglements.

Most often, fishermen, tour boat operators, and whale researchers are the ones to first report entanglements. The course will prepare them, and others, to report entanglements in Alaska.

Responding to whale entanglements can be dangerous. Only highly trained and experienced teams with the proper equipment should attempt to disentangle whales.

Boaters who come across entangled whales can still help in the response without getting too close. They can collect information and monitor the whale until trained teams arrive. By knowing what information to collect, and taking and sharing photos with the disentanglement team, boaters can help marine mammal responders. These teams have advanced training to understand the extent of the entanglement before mounting a response. This enables them to respond with the right gear.

"Fishermen and other boaters are our eyes on the water," said Jon Kurland, head of the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region Protected Resources Division. "Countless times the information they have provided about a whale entanglement has been the key factor in our response network's ability to locate the animal, assess its condition, and attempt to disentangle it if the conditions are right."

"Commercial and recreational fishermen are an untapped resource who could provide a much broader and stronger foundation for entanglement response networks given the right training," said Tom Dempsey, Oceans Program Director at TNC. "It makes sense to develop a training course for them since they want to be a part of the solution, and they are often onsite when entanglements occur."

The online course is an introduction to the entanglement response program and underscores the different levels of expertise required and safety precautions. The module includes information on how to identify whale species, observe their behavior, and assess and document the entanglement through photographs and video. Much more extensive, in-person training is required to qualify for disentanglement teams that are part of the Large Whale Entanglement Response Network overseen by NOAA Fisheries.

TNC provided the computer platform and technical expertise to develop the online course. NOAA Fisheries, NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Center for Coastal Studies, and other members of the response network provided course content. This includes information, interviews, photographs, and video of previous entanglements.

"This course really supports our overall vision for healthy, thriving ecosystems and stable, productive fisheries," added Dempsey. "We've already helped to develop region-specific online courses for whale entanglement response for the West Coast Region, and now the Alaska Region. The Pacific Islands Region course will be available soon to that on-water community. We are going forward to develop similar training for other regions of NOAA Fisheries as well."

Related Articles

Composition patterns of fish communities in Hawaii
Do the shallow reef fish communities extend to mesophotic depths? Relatively little is known about the underwater world below typical scuba diving depths. This includes mesophotic depths,100 to 500 feet beneath the surface, the furthest that sunlight can penetrate the ocean. Posted on 17 Nov
2019 Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals
Aerial surveys for whales offer a vastly different view compared to boat-based surveys Aerial surveys for whales offer a vastly different view compared to boat-based surveys. The aerial view allows us to see both left and right sides of a whale's body and sometimes even parts of the body below the water's surface. Posted on 9 Nov
What happens when a right whale dies
The right whale known as "Snake Eyes" likely died from entanglement in Canadian fishing gear When a right whale dies and we find it in U.S. waters, we work with stranding network partners to do a necropsy so that we can find out more about the whale and what caused its death. Posted on 8 Nov
Genetics reveal Pacific subspecies of Fin Whale
New findings highlight diversity of marine mammals New genetic research has identified fin whales in the northern Pacific Ocean as a separate subspecies, reflecting a revolution in marine mammal taxonomy Posted on 31 Oct
Tide to table: The rise of ocean farmers
Aquaculture, also known as farming in water, is fastest growing food production system in the world There is a growing interest in understanding where our food is coming from and in supporting local farmers. There has also been an increased focus on local fare on many menus at eateries coast to coast. Posted on 20 Oct
Corals thriving 3 years after Hurricane Matthew
Monitoring shows 90 percent survival rate for restored corals in Puerto Rico Hurricane Matthew swept a destructive path through the south Atlantic and Carribean. Immediately, staff from the NOAA Restoration Center set to work responding to a damaged coral reef off the coast of Puerto Rico. Posted on 18 Oct
Looking back at the Blob - Chapter 2
The Blob, Chapter 2: Marine Heat Wave "Off the Charts" Temperatures of up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal disrupted the marine ecosystem in both expected and surprising ways. Posted on 10 Oct
Nine turtles satellite tagged in Cape Cod Bay
Researchers attached tags to nine leatherbacks Researchers from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and colleagues successfully attached satellite tags to nine leatherback turtles in Cape Cod Bay this summer. Posted on 3 Oct
Looking back at The Blob
Temperatures of up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal disrupted the marine ecosystem When he saw the sampling nets hauled aboard a NOAA research ship off the coast of Oregon in the summer of 2015, Ric Brodeur knew right away something very strange was happening. Posted on 3 Oct
Rescuing Hawaiian seals and sea turtles
Wrapping up the 2019 field season after 3 months of field camps in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands NOAA field biologists returned to Honolulu after three months at remote camps in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They researched and rescued some of the most iconic and endangered species in Hawai?i—Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles. Posted on 30 Sep
Marine Resources 2019 - FooterNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterGrapefruit Graphics 2019 - Footer