One entangled whale freed, search continues for second in Gulf
Published Monday, July 16, 2018 9:03PM ADT
It's been a little more than a year since half of the Campobello Whale Rescue Team was lost, doing exactly what their name entails.
Joe Howlett, co-founder of the team, died during a whale rescue on July 10 last year, but not before successfully freeing an entangled whale.
This past weekend, the other half of the team, Mackie Greene, helped free an entangled baby humpback whale.
The rescue happened just off Brier Island, N.S., with the help other team members, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Brier Island Whale and Seabird cruise.
It’s the first rescue the team has made since Howlett's death - something very much on Greene's mind.
“I think every day. Joe was a dear friend, we both loved whale rescue, it was a passion of ours,” Greene said. “I knew the first one after the accident, it had to happen, it was coming, but you're never really prepared.”
The baby joined its mother, swimming away from rescuers as soon as it was untangled.
Greene says the weekend's rescue proves the importance of the team's work.
“Once we were on scene and started working, I had a good feeling,” said Greene. “I felt confident, I knew Joe was looking down upon us smiling so I, it felt really good to get back at it and to do another one and really good to get that first one underneath the belt again.”
The day before the rescue, an entangled North Atlantic Right Whale was also spotted in the Maritimes.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the whale was seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Miscou Island in northern New Brunswick.
DFO says air, fisheries officers, and partners haven't been able to locate the whale since, but regular surveillance flights continued Monday.
The busy weekend follows new regulations set by DFO just last week.
Vessels are now required to stay 100 metres from whales, dolphins and other marine life.
That excludes those trained to help animals in distress -- like the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS).
“The work that we do, whether it's a live animal on a beach, entangled whales, or entrapped ones, our groups and many of our partners, we do have to be able to interact with the animal,” said Tonya Wimmer, the director of MARS. “And so that's the new amendments to the regulations that are providing for some of that.”
Greene says that exception means their work can continue, which is exactly what Joe Howlett would have wanted.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.