The orcas, T65A5, discovered in Saratoga Passage on Wednesday got caught in a crab pot.
SEATTLE – A temporary killer orcas was able to free itself from the crab pot on Wednesday after more than seven hours.
Reports came around 10 a.m. of a killer whale apparently entangled in a crab pot near Saratoga Passage between Whidbey and Camano islands, according to reports. NOAA West Coast Seafood.
A commercial tugboat remained in the area to monitor the whale – later identified as T65A5 – as multiple agencies responded.
The US Coast Guard launched a drone to try and assess the whale’s situation. Local tour operators from the Pacific Whale Watchers Association helped track killer whales throughout the day. Responders from NOAA, Cascadia Research Collective and Sealife Response reviewed aerial footage to determine the best way to temporarily release killer whales.
However, human intervention is ultimately unnecessary. Around 5 p.m., more than seven hours after spotting the stranded whale, T65A5 swam closer to shore, which created slack in the rope and allowed the killer whale to swim freely.
This is not the first time the T65A5, also known as Indy/Elsie, has been reported to be in a predicament. Last year, orcas were stuck in a lagoon near Port Angeles for several hours before swimming freely at high tide.
In 2022, NOAA confirms 30 whales entangled off the West Coast of the United States or entangled in equipment from commercial fishing operations on the West Coast. One of them was a transient orca.
Since 2014, the number of whales caught in nets has increased, with numbers peaking in 2015 and 2016 when more than 50 were confirmed each year. According to NOAA, humpbacks are most commonly entangled.
NOAA has a program to help respond to entangled whale reports but relies on reports to ensure a response. If you come across an entangled whale, you can contact Coping with entanglement of great whales on the West Coast via the 24/7 regional hotline: 1-877-SOS-WHALE or contact the US Coast Guard on VHF CH-16.
If you see other marine mammals in distress on the beach or in the water, you can contact West Coast Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-866-767-6114.