Scientists Successfully Use Sedation to Help Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale

January 15th a very special day for NOAA scientists and its state and nonprofit partners, and for the the young female North Atlantic Right whale who was disentangled from ropes and wire mesh fishing gear. Read the full news report on NOAA’s website , it begins:

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries Service and its state and nonprofit partners successfully used at-sea chemical sedation to help cut the remaining ropes from a young North Atlantic right whale on January 15 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The sedative given to the whale allowed the disentanglement team to safely approach the animal and remove 50 feet of rope which was wrapped through its mouth and around its flippers.

The sedative given to the whale allowed the disentanglement team to safely approach the animal. (Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

This is only the second time a free-swimming whale has been successfully sedated to enable disentanglement efforts. The first time a whale was successfully sedated and disentangled was in March 2009 off the coast of Florida.

“Our recent progress with chemical sedation is important because it’s less stressful for the animal, and minimizes the amount of time spent working on these animals while maximizing the effectiveness of disentanglement operations,” said Jamison Smith, Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Coordinator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This disentanglement was especially complex, but proved successful due to the detailed planning and collective expertise of the many response partners involved.”

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