Rescuers work to save an entangled humpback whale in B.C. waters on Oct. 21, 2022. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans & McGill Drone Imaging Department)
One of the many threats that whales face is 'entanglement' - often due to discarded fishing gear (which may have been intentionally or accidentally left in the water).
Since the 1960s, most fishing gear has been made of nylon (including massive nets). This material is a strong and resilient engineered plastic that doesn't break down. Discarded fishing nets (also called 'ghost nets') don't vanish over time. They remain intact as a web of deadly netting in the Ocean until they are physically removed.
Whales are unfortunately one of the many marine animals caught in 'ghost nets' (discarded fishing nets) - survival is not guaranteed with or without human intervention. Sometimes that damage has been too great - circulation has been cut-off for too long - and the whale does not survive even after the netting has been removed.
We are always happy when there's a happy ending - but we wish 'ghost nets' were not an issue in the first place. In October 2022, A 10-metre-long humpback whale was entangled in fishing gear in British Columbia's Strait of Georgia. The fishing gear was removed with the help of a rescue team, a drone, a satellite tag, concerned citizens and an acrobatic twist from the whale itself. You can read the full article here: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rescue-team-whale-tanglement-bc-strait-of-georgia-1.6629426
If you're asking yourself, "What can I do to help stop this issue with the 'ghost nets'???" We'd like to direct you to this fantastic article by the non-profit "Food Empowerment Project". The article discusses the issues of the fishing industry, the hazards, ghost nets, environmental impacts, and how we can help by not supporting this industry. Please read the full article here: https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/workers-in-the-fishing-industry/
Whale entanglements are a common threat. We will add more resources/articles to this entry and our RESOURCES page soon. Thank you for diving in and asking what you can personally do to help Whales and our Oceans.