Killer Whale Entanglements in Alaska
Summary Report: 1991-2022
NMFS has documented killer whale entanglements through a variety of means established under three primary programs for several decades.
This Technical Memorandum provides a comprehensive summary of 37 killer whale entanglement reports in Alaska from 1991 to 2022. Trawl and longline gear were associated with most reported incidents (n=30). The severity of the entanglements varied, with some whales experiencing no known lasting injury, and others, a majority (n= 25), suffering mortality. There are several factors that correlate with entanglement risk, including gear type, age class, and seasonality. Additionally, we summarize techniques, strategies, and best practices for entanglement responders and review potential bycatch mitigation tactics. This technical memorandum is intended to be used as a resource for researchers, policy makers, and stakeholders working to better understand and lessen the impacts of entangling materials, including fishing gear, on killer whales in Alaska.