Fishermen in Ingonish, Nova Scotia accidentally caught and released an endangered right whale in a mackerel trap.
On Monday, July 5, 2015 fishermen from a small community of Ingonish in Nova Scotia accidentally trapped a North Atlantic right whale in a mackerel trap.
“We saw the whale surfacing, swimming freely inside the trap,” Captain Kinnon Mackinnon of the Keltic Express Zodia Adventures told CBS Nova Scotia. “Kind of rolling around, it seemed a little bit confused.”
The North-Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered of all large whales. Once widespread across the North Atlantic Ocean, it is now only found on the eastern coast of North America. It has had a long history of being a slow, easy target for whalers who sought after its rich blubber for oil. Even though it has been protected since the 1930s, right whale populations have not grown from the 400 left in existence.
The whole ordeal was over in about an hour as local fishermen quickly rushed to the area and were able to open the mackerel trap enough for the whale to escape unharmed.
This is a very uncommon occurrence that happens a few times a year.
“It usually does end well. Fishermen are very interested in releasing the whale as well. They don’t want their gear damaged and don’t want to entangle a whale,” said Andrew Reid from the Halifax Marine Animal Response Society.
Biologists are currently trying to determine exactly which right whale it was, as researchers track the animals to learn more about them.
“We did see him swimming freely about a mile away with the great big tail in the air. I think he was saying goodbye.” said Captain Mackinnon.