MARTHA'S VINEYARD (CBS)-- A 15-foot minke whale was rescued 40 miles south of Martha's Vineyard Sunday after being entangled in fishing gear for three days.
The Center for Coastal Studies' Marine Animal Entanglement Response team (MAER) was notified of the situation Friday, but was not able to respond right away due to poor weather conditions.
When MAER arrived at the scene Monday, the whale had rope wrapped around its jaw. The rope was attached to fishing gear on the sea floor, and the whale was only able to move in small circles.
"We are very thankful that the mariner reported the whale" said MAER team member Bob Lynch. "Had we not received notification as quickly as we did, the outcome would have been very different."
A hook-shaped knife at the end of a long pole was used to cut the rope, and the whale was able to quickly swim away.
The whale had minor injuries, but is expected to heal on its own.
"I think the whale is probably doing well today," said responder Jenn Tackaberry. "It may be a little sore from being entangled for so many days, but overall it looked to be in good condition once we released it."
Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles and other marine animals to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline (1-800-900-3622) or the US Coast Guard, and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.
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