After the DFO marine mammal incident hotline got a call Monday about a distressed humpback calf in Barkley Sound, they found the animal was entangled and stuck to a buoy struggling to break free.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada officers already out on the water south of Ucluelet put a satellite tag on the animal to make sure they wouldn’t lose its whereabouts. Then the rescue team got to work.
“I was able to get a kit together with all the cutting knives and equipment here in Vancouver and jump on a floatplane and get there within an hour and a half, which was pretty amazing,” said DFO Marine Mammals Co-ordinator Paul Cottrell.
But with the calf crying in distress and it’s mother staying by its side, the team knew it was a situation that could be dangerous.
“Especially if its a mom- calf pair because you never know how mum is going to act,” said Cottrell.
The animal though wasn’t in good shape and they needed to do something.
“It was an awful entanglement it was basically hogtied and it was already showing injury on the dorsal side,” said Cottrell.
It took a little patience. The team had to asses the calf’s behaviour and wait until it got tired enough so they could move in. Six hours later, they were able to cut it free.
“We were able to get all the gear off so it was fantastic,” said Cottrell.
The entangled material turned out to be about 450 feet (137 metres) of line and trap from recreational prawn gear that had been missing for several weeks.
“So this calf had been carrying around the gear for about four weeks,” said Cottrell.