Officials say a 45-ton humpback whale entangled with fishing line in Hawaii waters for more than a week is finally free. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said yesterday that its craft got within 10 feet of the mammal a day earlier and the crew used a pole equipped with a knife to saw the line free. "There was no sudden thrashing. It would trumpet blow, which is a sign of stress," says Ed Lyman of the sanctuary. "It definitely wasn’t happy with us being there. It didn’t understand." Lyman says several hundred feet of line was cut away.
West Hawaii Today reports that when the 45-foot-long whale swam free, all line but a small piece lodged in a wound was off. Lyman says that the fragment will fall away as the wound heals. The entangled whale was first spotted Feb. 13 off the Big Island's Kona Coast. Experts say such entanglements could result in drowning, starvation, infections, and increased susceptibility to ship strikes. (Read more humpback whale stories.)