Fishermen, Feeling Blamed for Right Whale Entanglements, Say #ShowUsTheRope

The Center for Coastal Studies right whale aerial surveillance team, who were conducting a survey of Cape Cod Bay, spotted entangled whale #3560, Snow Cone. (Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA permit #18786-04)

Conservationists say that every North Atlantic right whale counts, as the population has fallen to around 360. But one entangled right whale found in Cape Cod Bay—named Snow Cone—has triggered an outcry of frustration from fishermen, who say they’re being unfairly blamed for the decline of the critically endangered species.

The uproar started with a Facebook post.

On Wednesday, March 10, a team from Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies freed Snow Cone from 300 feet of rope. Though some rope remained, possibly embedded in her jaw, the team felt they gave her a fighting chance to shed the rest on her own.

“We’re going to keep an eye on her, and help her out if she needs more,” said Scott Landry, who oversees disentanglement efforts. “We think we did our best by her.”

Shortly after, the center described the team’s success on its Facebook page, and used a photo from an aerial survey that shows the whale and the telltale rope from 1,000 feet in the air.

“So, I remember seeing this,” said Nick Muto, who’s been catching lobsters out of Chatham for the last 20 years. “They posted something, you know: ‘Right whale number 3560; Snow Cone; 16-year-old breeding female; partially disentangled.’”

Right away, Muto noticed that the Facebook post said the retrieved rope likely came from a fishery, but there was no close-up picture.

Read the rest of the story at CAI’s website.