NOAA responds to entangled whale calf near Auke Bay

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association responded to an entangled humpback whale calf in the Auke Bay area Wednesday, making strategic cuts in the blue/green poly line trailing from the whale’s mouth in hopes it could free itself.

Spotters reported the 1-year-old calf nicknamed “Lincoln” was entangled over a week ago. Lincoln was again located near Favorite Reef west of Auke Bay where a team of five marine mammal experts were able to make strategic cuts in the gear lodged in the whale’s mouth.

“The entangled animal is this year’s calf of a commonly-seen humpback whale in the Juneau area,” NOAA marine mammal specialist Suzie Teerlink said in a Wednesday news release. The whale is often spotted with her mother, nicknamed “Juneauite.” The pair is frequently spotted together in the Juneau area.

NOAA received unconfirmed reports from a whale watching operation Thursday that Lincoln was spotted still entangled in the gear, said NOAA’s Julie Speegle.

“We are interested in sightings of Juneauite and her calf so we can relocate and reassess the calf to see if there is need for further response,” Teerlink said.

This is at least the second whale entanglement in the Juneau area this summer that has prompted a NOAA response and made headlines. A 40-foot whale became entangled in an anchor line on June 1. NOAA unsuccessfully attempted to free that whale and has since been unable to locate it because its tracking device fell off.

The U.S. Coast Guard assisted in NOAA’s response on Wednesday, Speegle said. The Coast Guard helped by setting up a perimeter and keeping boats at bay as NOAA worked.

Anyone who sees the entangled humpback calf should maintain a distance of 100 yards or more and immediately call the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 877-925-7773.

• Contact Kevin Gullufsen at or call (907) 523-2228.

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