A dead 40-foot female humpback whale was found entangled in a fishing net off Cape Elizabeth, Maine, June 5 and towed into Portland harbor for removal.

 The response group Marine Mammals of Maine and Maine Marine Patrol were notified of the entangled whale, first reported as alive but found dead when Marine Patrol arrived on the scene, according to a statement from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The whale was known to researchers and whale-watch captains as “Chunk,” listed as #9944 in the Gulf of Maine and North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogs.

 On Thursday morning, the Maine Marine Patrol towed the whale into Portland. At Portland Yacht Services on the Fore River, the yard’s boat lift was used to hoist the carcass onto a trailer for disposal at a composting farm in Gorham after a necropsy to investigate the cause of death, the Bangor Daily News reported.

 NMFS officials said Marine Mammals of Maine is leading the examination with support from members of NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Region’s marine mammal stranding network, including the College of the Atlantic / Allied Whale,  Seacoast Science Center, New England Aquarium, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident. First seen in 2015, the whale was spotted again later that year with a severe gear entanglement.

“NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center was able to locate her, and the Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team successfully removed the heavy rope encircling her body. She had exhibited normal, healthy behavior every year since then,” according to the agency statement.


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