Crews successfully freed an entangled humpback whale off Lahaina Wednesday morning.
The whale was first spotted off the Big Island last week with hundreds of feet of gauge line wrapped around its mouth and head and along the right pectoral fin. The entanglement was considered life-threatening.
On Sunday, an authorized response team attached a transmitter package to the line. When the whale was spotted again on Wednesday, trained and permitted personnel used a long pole with a specially designed hook knife to cut the gear and free the whale.
The whale is reported to be in poor condition, emaciated and light in color, though experts say its chance at survival has improved considerably.
Rescue efforts were led by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, working closely with trained personnel from NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, NOAA Corps and the West Maui Response Team.
If you come across an injured or entangled marine mammal, please maintain the required safety distance of 100 yards and call the NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline at (888) 256-9840 or the U.S. Coast Guard on channel 16.