How to Disentangle a Whale

March 29, 2014

Every year, dozens of whales become entangled in fishing gear off the U.S. Atlantic coast. The Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network works to save them.

An entangled whale.

NOAA rescuers successfully rescued this entangled humpback whale in 2013. Credit: NOAA.

Every year, dozens of whales become entangled in fishing gear off the Atlantic coast of the U.S. This is often fatal for the whales, and it's a particular threat to critically endangered species like the Atlantic right whale. To help reduce the threat, NOAA and several other agencies maintain a network of highly trained emergency responders whose job it is to disentangle large whales. This can be an extremely dangerous task. After all they're often working with animals that are tremendously powerful and painfully wounded.

Jamison Smith leads NOAA's Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Program, and in this podcast, he explains some of the techniques that marine mammal experts at NOAA and partner organizations have developed to safely disentangle a large whale.

Last updated by Office of Communications on July 23, 2018