Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Right Whale Sedation Enables Disentanglement Effort

13.03.2009
For the first time ever, rescuers used a new sedation delivery system to help free an entangled North Atlantic right whale. The new system was developed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in collaboration with NOAA and the Univ. of Florida and the Univ. of Wisconsin veterinary schools to make the animals more approachable by rescue boats.

On Friday, March 6, 2009, for the first time ever, a North Atlantic right whale that had been severely entangled in fishing gear, was administered a sedation mixture that made it possible for rescuers to remove 90 percent of the entanglement.

The rescue involved the efforts of a multi-institutional team including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), NOAA Fisheries, which manages the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network based at the Provincetown (MA) Center for Coastal Studies, the University of Florida’s Aquatic Animal Health Program, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Coastwise Consulting Group.

Team members on four boats assisted by an aerial survey plane worked for two days to free the animal. Eventually they succeeded in injecting the 40-foot, 40,000-pound whale with a mixture of sedatives that allowed them to cut away the gear that wrapped around the animal’s head.

The new sedation delivery system built by Trevor Austin of Paxarms New Zealand, comprises a 12-inch needle and a syringe driven by compressed air, which injects the drug into the whale’s muscle.

“This tool enhances fishing gear removal from entangled whales and minimizes the added stress from repeated boat approaches to the animals,” said Michael Moore, a veterinarian and research biologist at WHOI. Moore has led the investigation into chemical and physical tools to facilitate and enhance the safety of large whale restraint during efforts to remove entangling fishing gear. “It’s gratifying to have successfully employed this new technique.”

North Atlantic right whales are frequently entangled in fixed fishing gear, especially from the trap and gillnet fisheries. Many of them eventually disentangle themselves, but some entanglements persist for months, at times resulting in a slow and presumably very painful death.

Whale avoidance of boats attempting disentanglement is a major limit to successful resolution of complex cases. Over the past 10 years WHOI, in collaboration with NOAA Fisheries and two veterinary schools at the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin have developed a sedation system to slow the animals and make them more approachable by rescue boats.

“The typical success rate for freeing right whales from fishing gear is about 50 percent due largely in part to the difficulties in getting close enough to cut the entangling gear,” said Jamison Smith, NOAA’s East Coast project leader for whale disentanglement. “We hope this new technique can improve the overall safety of the operations as well improve the chances of the whales’s survival.”

The animal (New England Aquarium catalog No: 3311) was first sighted entangled east of Brunswick, Ga., on Jan. 14, 2009, by the Georgia Wildlife Trust aerial survey team, which noted multiple lengths of heavy line cutting in to the whale’s upper jaw and left lip and trailing behind the animal. It was tagged with a telemetry buoy by the Georgia DNR to allow it to be tracked.

A disentanglement attempt by FWC, GA-DNR, Coastwise Consulting, University of Florida, NOAA and WHOI was made on Jan. 22, east of Amelia Island, Fla., but the whale evaded all attempts to cut the lines. On Jan. 23 further disentanglement attempts were made, with the addition of a sedation dose, delivered by remote syringe and needle with no success.

The dose given appeared to make the animal feel less pain, but was not sedated enough to be more approachable. Further disentanglement attempts by GA-DNR and Coastwise Consulting failed on Feb. 1.

On March 5 the disentanglement team made another attempt, this time increasing the dosage used on Jan. 23. The sedative appeared to cause the whale to take shallower, more frequent breaths, but the animal continued to evade the boat’s attempts to approach it. On Friday, March 6, a further increase in the dose resulted in a marked switch from the expected evasiveness. An hour after injection of sedatives, the animal no longer evaded boat approaches, but instead tolerated repeated close approaches by a disentanglement boat to allow removal of 90 percent of the remaining rope. Veterinarians on the team calculated the dosage based on experience sedating animals in captivity, starting low through the clinical range until they found a safe and effective level.

“Our prior experience with using these drugs safely in dolphins, beluga whales, killer whales and other species gave us the initial levels of sedatives to start with,” said Mike Walsh a veterinarian and associate director of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s Aquatic Animal Health program.

“Our first attempts with sedatives in a previous animal were not as promising as hoped so we moved on to another sedative combination that has helped clinicians to get access to animals that may be less cooperative,” Walsh said. “This technique may greatly expand the options for the disentanglement teams dealing with these severely compromised whales, and the whales themselves. It is very exciting to be able to see it have an effect in an animal so large.”

The animal remains in very poor condition and has a guarded prognosis, but the disentanglement will give it a better chance for survival.

The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered great whale, with a population of less than 400. Human activity—particularly ship collisions and entanglement in commercial fishing gear—is the most common cause of North Atlantic right whale deaths.

“This use of sedatives in a large free-ranging whale is novel and an exciting new tool in the large whale disentanglement toolbox,” said Moore. “However, it does not address the underlying problem of how to enable fixed-gear fisheries to pursue a profitable business, without jeopardizing the survival of endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale.”

Images and video are available on the NOAA site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/mm/rightwhales/RightWhaleDisentanglment.htm

Stephanie Murphy | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.whoi.edu

Further reports about: Atlantic Coastwise DNR Disentanglement FWC Fisheries GA-DNR Health NOAA Oceanographic WHOI Whale Wildlife aquatic right whales sedation woods

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>