Entangled whale spotted off MDI, officials unable to find the mammal

Posted June 21, 2012, at 6:46 p.m.

GREAT DUCK ISLAND, Maine — Officials responded Thursday afternoon to a report of an entangled minke whale off Mount Desert Island but have been unable to find the marine mammal.

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol said Thursday evening that the report of the entangled whale came in around 2 p.m.

Sgt. Jay Carroll of Marine Patrol said the animal was spotted by a whale watch boat.

Carroll said the animal was described as having a rope caught in its mouth and wrapped around its body, including possibly around its dorsal fin. The whale was swimming, as opposed to being anchored in place, when it was spotted, he said.

Carroll said the people who reported it were not sure if the rope was from fishing gear. No equipment such as a buoy or trap, or even a long section of rope, was reported to be trailing off the whale, he said.

The Marine Patrol officer said the agency sent out a boat Thursday afternoon to Great Duck Island but were unable to find the whale. The state agency plans to send a plane up in the morning to see if the whale can be spotted from the air, according to Carroll.

“Our plan is to fly in the morning with our aircraft,” he said. “I don’t know if we will find it or not.”

Minke whales are smaller than most other whales, growing to lengths of up to 35 feet. Unlike several larger whale species, minke whales are not listed as endangered or threatened, though they are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are an estimated 185,000 minke whales in the North Atlantic Ocean, according to information posted on the NOAA Fisheries website.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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