There was a happy ending for a small humpback whale caught in fishing gear near Bay L’Argent.
The Whale Release and Strandings Group and officers from the Marystown and Harbour Breton detachments of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) successfully freed the mammal Tuesday afternoon.
Residents in the area reported the whale was entangled and towing the gear a week prior to the rescue, according to a news release from the whale group.
Winds were high at the time, however, and the animal had moved out of the immediate area.
Elaine Rolls, acting supervisor for DFO’s Marystown detachment, said the whale remained in the region to feed and was located when the weather eased.
“We had officers doing daily checks, going down to the area, and also people phoning in to let us know that the whale was still sighted and was in the area,” she said.
“Once we saw the weather improve (Tuesday), we were able to launch our boat, and we had a patrol vessel come over from the Harbour Breton office, as well, with three officers.”
The Harbour Breton vessel searched the area and found the whale, Rolls said. The Marystown DFO boat then brought Julie Huntington of the whale group to the scene.
The humpback was caught in the frame for a fishing net reported missing around the same time as the initial sighting of the animal, the news release stated.
The whale was in good shape when released and immediately took off, Huntington said.
The disentanglement was the first of the season and the earliest ever for the whale group.
The whale may be one of the yearlong resident humpbacks that prefer to stay in the province and not migrate to the Caribbean for the winter, Huntington said.
While the whale group has a small boat of its own, Rolls said the Marystown DFO detachment regularly helps out.
“Their boat was dismantled and put away in storage for the winter, so they requested our assistance, which we were more than happy to provide,” she said.