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Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network


The Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network is a community based network that is coordinated by Ed Lyman and David Mattila of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The network is part of the larger Pacific Islands Marine Mammal Response Network headed by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office. Both networks operate under the authorization of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (Permit # 932-1905) issued by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources.

Map of confirmed humpback whale entanglement reports
Agency partners USCG and NOAA OLE training for large whale entanglement response with sanctuary personnel.

Disentanglement Network response is dependent upon the commitment of many state and federal agencies (e.g. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office, the U.S. Coast Guard), private non-governmental organizations, fishermen, researchers, and other individuals working together.

The network was formed in 2002 in an attempt to free endangered humpback whales and other marine animals from life threatening entanglements and at the same time gather valuable information that will help mitigate the issue of marine debris and future entanglements.

Network Training

The network has grown since its inception in 2002 and now comprises over 230 participants who have received different levels of training in order to support disentanglement efforts statewide. The network carries out disentanglement trainings each year on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

Map of confirmed humpback whale entanglement reports
Ed Lyman of NOAA's HIHWNMS and Chad Yoshinaga, of PIFSC lead a training for other sanctuary, Monument, Coast Guard, Science Center staff on large whale entanglement response.

Whale rescue is complex and dangerous for the whale rescuers as well as the animal. For this reason Network response to entangled whales, involving any close approach (closer than 100 yards) to the animal, may only be attempted by authorized persons working under NOAA Fisheries’ MMHSRP permit who are experienced, trained, knowledgeable, and have proper support and equipment.

Map of confirmed humpback whale entanglement reports
Ed Lyman , MMRM for sanctuary, investigates gear removed from a humpback whale.

Download a one page information sheet on disentanglement response efforts.


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