Please select your home edition
North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Leaderboard

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

by NOAA Fisheries 11 Oct 2019 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

North Atlantic right whales classification updated
There are about 400 individuals remaining, and likely fewer than 100 breeding females The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently changed its Red List Category for North Atlantic right whales from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Posted on 12 Jul
What is nearshore habitat?
Restoration focuses on valuable shoreline habitat where juvenile fish grow There is an especially valuable environment in Puget Sound made up of the beaches, bluffs, inlets, and river deltas: the nearshore. Posted on 28 Jun
Returning rescued sea turtles to the wild
Learn about the operations that go into rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing protected sea turtles We work with organizations along the Atlantic coast to help rescue and rehabilitate protected animals such as sea turtles. A successful rescue takes months of work and coordination between many partners. Posted on 27 Jun
Twentymile river whale update
It lingered in the river for more than a week The gray whale that was first reported in Twentymile River near Girdwood, Alaska on Memorial Day has likely died. It had lingered in the river for more than a week before swimming back into Turnagain Arm. Posted on 27 Jun
Celebrating sea turtle conservation
Conserving and protecting sea turtles is a part of our core mission at NOAA Fisheries NOAA Fisheries is committed to the protection, conservation, and recovery of sea turtles. We conduct research to inform conservation management actions and we work closely with our partners to advance conservation and recovery of these amazing animals. Posted on 22 Jun
Large whale entanglements report confirmed in US
More than 100 large whale entanglements were confirmed nationally in 2018 Many large whale populations are increasing in the United States, but entanglements in fishing gear or marine debris are a growing threat to the continued welfare and recovery of these species. Posted on 20 Jun
Autonomous vehicles help scientists estimate fish
An innovative scientific approach to survey Alaska pollock this year Scientists are capitalizing on existing technological capabilities and partnerships to collect fisheries data. This will help fill the information gap resulting from the cancellation of FY20 ship-based surveys due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted on 5 Jun
Newly weaned seal pup needs community help
NOAA and partners are requesting beach goers and ocean users keep their distance A recently weaned female Hawaiian monk seal pup has been resting along the shoreline and swimming in the waters along O'ahu's Kaiwi Coastline. She has appeared near some busy beach areas and hauled out in areas with a lot of vehicle activity on the beach. Posted on 30 May
Researchers probe orca poop for microplastics
What are microplastics and why are researchers looking for them in whale feces? You might worry about your toddler chewing on a plastic toy with toxic chemicals. Some orca researchers are beginning to worry about whales ingesting a gut full of microplastics, and what that might mean for their health. Posted on 29 May
Busy Atlantic hurricane season is expected
Multiple climate factors indicate above-normal activity is most likely An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Posted on 24 May
Vaikobi 2019AUG - Footer 2North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER