PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — A rescue team battled a thrashing humpback whale for four hours Thursday off the coast of Cape Cod before freeing the huge creature from commercial fishing gear, officials said.
"It turned out to be a little trickier than they thought," Center for Coastal Studies spokeswoman Lynn Hiller said of the rescue. "The line [from nets] ran around the tail and through the whale's mouth."
First spotted a week ago, the humpback whale disappeared as a series of storms swept over New England, but a patrol helicopter found it again Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Charles Mayo and two other researchers from the center set out in an inflatable boat and were able to attach buoys to the gear to prevent the whale from diving.
It took four hours before the whale, thoroughly exhausted, allowed the scientists to cut away the tangled fishing gear.
"After that it was a much happier whale," Hiller said. "It got downright frisky."
There are about 10,000 humpback whales in the world's oceans. The creatures, known for their complicated singing, can grow up to 50 feet long.