GREAT DUCK ISLAND, Maine — The state Marine Patrol resumed searching Friday for an entangled minke whale that was sighted Thursday off Mount Desert Island but was unable to find the animal.
Sgt. Jay Carroll of Maine Marine Patrol said that the agency sent a plane out Friday morning to fly over coastal waters off MDI but that it returned to land when thunderstorms blew through midmorning.
“We didn’t find it, at least not yet,” Carroll said. “We have a boat out there.”
He said that, if the whale is still in the area, it likely will be spotted by a fisherman or a whale watch boat and its position then reported again to officials.
The whale was reported off Great Duck Island around 2 p.m. Thursday by a whale watch boat. It was described as having a rope caught in its mouth and wrapped around its body, including possibly around its dorsal fin, officials said. The whale appeared to be swimming with little trouble when it was spotted.
Witnesses were not sure whether 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, Carroll said Thursday. Marine Patrol sent out a boat Thursday afternoon but were unable to find the whale.
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.