OCEAN CITY — National Aquarium animal rescue officials on Friday were searching the waters off the coast of Ocean City for a juvenile humpback whale snagged in a commercial fishing net in the bay north of the Route 50 bridge and briefly released by Good Samaritans.
Around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, a group of individuals fishing from a boat in the bay north of the Route 50 bridge around 12th Street came upon a juvenile humpback whale stranded in a fishing net. The Good Samaritans called Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), who began the tedious process of cutting the net away from the humpback whale roughly 40 feet long.
The NRP responded and, together with the individuals who discovered the snagged whale, continued to cut away at the net for a long time until the whale freed itself and swam away. The rescue efforts were halted because of darkness and an approaching storm.
However, despite the valiant efforts of rescuers, the whale was not completely freed of the netting when it swam away and remained very much in danger. According to National Aquarium officials, the whale had a monofilament net entangled around its mouth, pectoral fins and possibly its tail.
Because the whale remained in danger, the National Aquarium animal rescue team early Friday morning resumed a search for the endangered whale in the waters in and around the resort area.
“At the time of the Maryland Natural Resources Police’s initial response, their group along with a nearby group of public citizens were able to remove a good portion of the netting on the animal,” National Aquarium officials said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “While we began our response protocol as soon as the sighting was confirmed, members of the National Aquarium Animal Rescue team were unable to participate in search efforts by boat until 8 a.m. this morning due to weather conditions. Our search for the animal continues at this time.”
The National Aquarium Animal Rescue team is urging the boating public to report any sightings of the whale, which is likely still in danger. Aquarium officials stressed the importance of anyone spotting the whale to not touch or approach the marine mammal or allow others to do so. Aquarium officials are asking anyone who spots the whale to carefully note the location and time of day and immediately contact the Animal Rescue Team at 410-576-3880.