Large Whale Entanglement Fact Sheet
Marine mammal entanglement, or bycatch, is a global problem that results in the death of hundred of thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals world-wide every year.
Entangled marine mammals may drown or starve due to being restricted by gear, or they may suffer physical trauma and infections. They may also be hit by vessels due to an inability to avoid them. NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Protected Resources Division works to safely free endangered large whales from life-threatening entanglements. At the same time, NOAA gathers valuable information that will reduce the frequency and impact of entanglement in the future.
In addition to specially designed tools that help responders get hold of and cut free large entangled whales, NOAA Fisheries uses transmitters and receivers to automatically and remotely track an entangled animal over time. The science, called telemetry, is an important tool for whale rescue. The Alaska Response Network uses telemetry to track and re-locate entangled whales that cannot be disentangled during the initial response due to limited resources, and/or condition restraints. Telemetry increases the safety of disentanglement operations, and may assist in its overall success.