Rescuers save humpback from a tangle of ropes

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Jonathan Riley
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By Christine Callaghan

“I’ve been trying to think of words that can adequately describe today’s experience on the Bay of Fundy, and most come up short.

But plain old ‘unforgettable’ works, because I know that I, and anyone who was there, will always remember Foggy’s rescue this afternoon.”

Christine Callaghan, a guide with Pirate’s Cove Whale Watch in Tiverton, Long Island, wrote this post on Facebook about Foggy’s rescue on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 29.

“The Fundy Cruiser wasn’t long out of port on our 1 p.m. trip when we sighted a couple of blows, and headed in that direction. A call came from Richie Crocker, on one of the Ocean Explorations zodiacs, to tell us that there was an entangled whale nearby.

“So our captain, Todd Sollows, detoured in that direction. We were heartsick to see an ‘old friend’, a female Humpback named Foggy, in a real mess.

“She had rope wrapped around her head and across her blowholes, and as we carefully approached, we could see that she also had a loop of rope across her peduncle (the narrow part of her tail, just ahead of the flukes), dragging a mass of old lobster traps beneath her.

“She was listing to one side with the weight of all the gear. Thankfully, she was still breathing regularly and with some force.

“But because she was hardly drifting at all with the tide, Todd figured she might be anchored.

“She was accompanied by another whale that we were able to identify as Grommet. I will challenge anyone who claims that humans are the only intelligent, empathetic animals.

“Grommet never left Foggy’s side, frequently spy-hopping throughout the long afternoon.”

Spy-hopping is when whales stick just their heads out of the water and appear to look around at the above surface world.

“We were all waiting for the whale disentanglement crew in their fast rescue craft to arrive from Campobello Island.”

Campobello Island is on the other side of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick about 80 kilometres away.  They arrived about 5 p.m.

“Another boat, the Shearwater, from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA, happened to be in the Bay of Fundy this afternoon, and came to provide any assistance they could.

“After assessing Foggy’s predicament, they stood by awaiting the FRC with its specially designed equipment. It’s hard to imagine that Foggy and Grommet didn’t comprehend what was happening as the Campobello crew worked to cut first the rope snagging Foggy’s tail, and then the ones around her head.”

Rescuers cut the last rope shortly after 5:30  p.m.

“The crew decided to leave a single strand in her mouth, fearing they would cause excessive bleeding if they dragged it out, and figuring that she would likely be able to rid herself of it.

“Foggy allowed them to approach within feet, and quietly tolerated their work to cut her free.

“Now comes the truly amazing thing… the instant the rope came off Foggy’s head, Grommet dove, and then burst from the water in a spectacular breach.

“Tell me that wasn’t a celebration.

“The last we saw of them, the two whales were heading side by side in and up the Bay.

“And everyone on all three boats had huge smiles on their faces. Well done, all.”

Christine Callaghan is a guide with Pirate’s Cove Whale Watch of Tiverton, Long Island.

Organizations: Center for Coastal Studies, FRC

Geographic location: Bay of Fundy, Long Island, Campobello Island New Brunswick Provincetown, MA

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  • Faye Mallory
    October 27, 2013 - 19:01

    Mom & Dad live in a retirement home in Brockville Ontario. Mom was born in Smiths Cove, Nova Scotia and receives the Digby Courier. When they read this story, Dad circulated it throughout the home and many really enjoyed it. We all need more good news stories like this. Congrats to all involved. Job well done.

  • Clint Willis Jr
    October 25, 2013 - 12:27

    Thank you. Was heart warming to read this and know that there are people out there that still care. When are we ever going to learn to get along with the animal kingdom? Thank you for all your work and efforts.

  • B@m
    October 14, 2013 - 19:40

    More understanding, tolerance and peace between all living things, would benefit our planet....

  • REDTHAWK
    October 05, 2013 - 08:14

    THANK YOU FOR HER RESCUE AND DISENTANGLEMENT! HOW BEAUTIFUL TO KNOW SHE IS FREE AND SAFE. WE HAVE WATCHED THE WHALES IN THE BAY AND STELLWAGEN BANK AND IT IS MIRACULOUS. PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOCALIZE AND SIGN PETITIONS AGAINST THE JAPANESE IN TAIJI AND THE FAROE ISLAND WHERE DOLPHINS AND PILOT WHALES ARE CRUELLY ROPED IN AND MURDERED .... TAIJI TAKE IN A DOLPHIN FROM A POD AND BAIT THE OTHERS WITH THE DISTRESS CALL AND THEN SLICE THEM OPEN IN THE COVE TO THEIR DEATH. THE FAROE ISLANDERS DO THIS AS SOME SORT OF BIZARRE TRADITION TOO. THIS HAS TO END. WHALES, DOPHINS, CETACEANS ARE INTELLIGENT CREATURES. SUPPPORT SEA SHEPHERD. BOYCOTT JAPAN AND SEND LETTERS PLEASE

  • REDTHAWK
    October 05, 2013 - 08:13

    THANK YOU FOR HER RESCUE AND DISENTANGLEMENT! HOW BEAUTIFUL TO KNOW SHE IS FREE AND SAFE. WE HAVE WATCHED THE WHALES IN THE BAY AND STELLWAGEN BANK AND IT IS MIRACULOUS. PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOCALIZE AND SIGN PETITIONS AGAINST THE JAPANESE IN TAIJI AND THE FAROE ISLAND WHERE DOLPHINS AND PILOT WHALES ARE CRUELLY ROPED IN AND MURDERED .... TAIJI TAKE IN A DOLPHIN FROM A POD AND BAIT THE OTHERS WITH THE DISTRESS CALL AND THEN SLICE THEM OPEN IN THE COVE TO THEIR DEATH. THE FAROE ISLANDERS DO THIS AS SOME SORT OF BIZARRE TRADITION TOO. THIS HAS TO END. WHALES, DOPHINS, CETACEANS ARE INTELLIGENT CREATURES. SUPPPORT SEA SHEPHERD. BOYCOTT JAPAN AND SEND LETTERS PLEASE

  • REDTHAWK
    October 05, 2013 - 08:12

    THANK YOU FOR HER RESCUE AND DISENTANGLEMENT! HOW BEAUTIFUL TO KNOW SHE IS FREE AND SAFE. WE HAVE WATCHED THE WHALES IN THE BAY AND STELLWAGEN BANK AND IT IS MIRACULOUS. PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOCALIZE AND SIGN PETITIONS AGAINST THE JAPANESE IN TAIJI AND THE FAROE ISLAND WHERE DOLPHINS AND PILOT WHALES ARE CRUELLY ROPED IN AND MURDERED .... TAIJI TAKE IN A DOLPHIN FROM A POD AND BAIT THE OTHERS WITH THE DISTRESS CALL AND THEN SLICE THEM OPEN IN THE COVE TO THEIR DEATH. THE FAROE ISLANDERS DO THIS AS SOME SORT OF BIZARRE TRADITION TOO. THIS HAS TO END. WHALES, DOPHINS, CETACEANS ARE INTELLIGENT CREATURES. SUPPPORT SEA SHEPHERD. BOYCOTT JAPAN AND SEND LETTERS PLEASE

  • carl carr
    October 05, 2013 - 07:59

    Thanks to The Crew!

  • Jan McAuley Dubinski
    October 04, 2013 - 05:20

    WOW!

  • delaere ann
    October 03, 2013 - 16:32

    prachtig werk! PROFICIAT

  • Pam
    October 03, 2013 - 11:47

    Thank you to all!!!!

  • Marián Ponce Alegre
    October 03, 2013 - 08:51

    Congratulations to everyone for the rescue and I'm very happy to know that nobody was hurt!!!

  • Randy Nickerson
    October 02, 2013 - 18:31

    Great story,I am a lobster fisherman from yarmouth...this story brought a smile to my face,my uncle dad and I also save foggy 15 years ago, she was a young whale then snarled up in ropes ...took us 3 hours but we got her free

  • Windy
    October 02, 2013 - 09:18

    Awesome job people! That story brought tears to my eyes and a big lump in my throat!

  • Dorothy Lowe
    October 02, 2013 - 09:12

    It is sad to see a whale in distress after all the pleasure they give us,it is so enjoyable to go and see the whales.Thanks to everyone involved in the rescue of Foggy.It is sad that whales get caught in ropes and traps.Whales are very intelligent.Thanks also to Grommet,a true friend.

  • Buzz Lokken
    October 01, 2013 - 20:23

    May the powers that be BLESS YOU ALL who assisted in this rescue !!

  • paul whalen
    October 01, 2013 - 12:31

    Good job .

  • Debbie
    October 01, 2013 - 10:28

    That is awesome, its good to know they are still some great humans left on this planet who truely care. Awesome stuff. God bless all of you who help Foggy and Grommet!!

  • Debbie
    October 01, 2013 - 10:27

    That is awesome, its good to know they are still some great humans left on this planet who truely care. Awesome stuff. God bless all of you who help Foggy and Grommet!!

  • Ray MacLeod
    September 30, 2013 - 20:23

    My first whale watch was many years ago and my family was lucky enough to see Bermuda introduce her calf Foggy to the Bay of Fundy. That makes this rescue very meaningful for me.

  • Helen
    September 30, 2013 - 17:06

    This is a beautiful story of man & whales. So amazing that people care so much. So amazing the whales understand and let man help them. This brought tears to my eyes and warmed my soul. Thanks to all who can and do reduce these beautiful creatures!!!

  • michelle adams
    September 30, 2013 - 16:40

    So sad to see such beautiful creatures in distress we are so lucky to have them still around, so glad to hear that Foggy was save , thank you all for the wonderful work you do!