KIHEI, Hawaii (KHON2) — On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Hawaiian Islands Large Whale Entanglement Response Network reports that two entangled whales were seen in waters off of Kihei, Maui and also off of Oahu. The whales have not been seen since then.

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The networks boat, the Kohola, along with level-4 responder Grant Thompson’s boat put in more than six hours each searching the waters off Kihei on Valentine’s day. The entangled adult humpback whale was seen the previous two days. The network says the entangled animal was not relocated.

The network says freeing a 40-ton animal is extremely dangerous for the animal and the would-be rescuer.

The network advises that only people who are authorized should disentangle whales.

Mariners who see a marine animal in distress should maintain 100 yards distance, and call NOAA Fisheries’ 24/7 response Hotline at 1 888 256-9840. Mariners can also radio the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH. 16.

We have to remember, that even an entangled whale, carrying entangling gear, ends up being a large needle in an even larger haystack – the North Pacific Ocean. That said, the sanctuary has alerted our partners and the on-water community to keep an eye out for the animal. This part of the response – reporting, is a very broad-based community effort, and is extremely valuable. It is the foundation of our efforts as it can set the stage for possible response by authorized personnel trained and well-equipped to free these large animals in what can be a very dangerous endeavor. We have learned that reporting (and not trying to free the animal on your own) is actually the best way to help the animal, and at the same time gain valuable information that might reduce the threat for other animals in the future.

Edward Lyman, Natural Resource Specialist
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary