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Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network

Overview

The Hawaiian Islands Large Whale Entanglement Response Network is a community-based network that is coordinated by Ed Lyman 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 Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office. Both networks operate under the authorization of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (Permit # 18786) issued to Dr. Teri Rowles of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources.

 
U.S. Coast Guard monitors the entangled adult humpback whale
U.S. Coast Guard monitors the entangled adult humpback whale. Photo credit: J. Moore/ HIHWNMS/ NOAA Fisheries MMHSRP Permit # 18786-02

The Network 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, and 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

 
Responders use a nearly life-size whale tail fabricated for large whale entanglement response training
Responders use a nearly life-size whale tail fabricated for large whale entanglement response training. Bob Gladden designed and fabricated this training tool for the Big Island, and it has now been copied on Maui as well as several locations along the West Coast.

The Network has grown since its inception in 2002 and now comprises over 300 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.

The Network has grown since its inception in 2002 and now comprises over 300 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.

 
practicing throwing a cutting grapple during training for large whale entanglement response
Grant Thompson practices throwing a cutting grapple during training for 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.


investigates gear removed from a humpback whale
Ed Lyman, Natural Resources Management Specialist for the Sanctuary, investigates gear removed from a humpback whale.


Download a one page information sheet on disentanglement response efforts.


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