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Whale that has been tangled over fishing gear for more than a year is spotted

Wildlife authorities in Georgia have said a whale that was trapped in fishing nets for more than a year has been spotted offshore.

Snow Cone, as the whale has been named by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was seen off the coast of Georgia’s Cumberland Island on 2 December.

The whale, which was first spotted and identified in March 2021, was at the centre of a number of failed attempts at removing fishing nets it was entrapped by.

However, according to Georgia DNR’s wildlife division, Snow Cone now has a few ropes around it and was “not entrapped”.

She was also seen with a new calf, almost 18 months after she lost her firstborn as a result of being hit by two vessels, authorities said.

North Atlantic Right Whales are a critically endangered species and rarely seen off Georgia’s coasts. Entrapment is among the biggest threats facing the animals.

“The calf is new and the second documented in the Southeast this season,” said the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia DNR on social media.

“It’s not entangled, but has been observed swimming in, through and around the ropes. General opinion is that they are short enough that the calf likely won’t become entangled if everything remains as is.”

The sighting of the calf means Snow Cone was able to successfully birth and care for a calf despite the few ropes still entangling her.

Reports suggested that over 300 feet of fishing line was removed by wildlife authorities during the attempts to disentangle her.

“Please help keep them safe while out boating along the East Coast. If you see one, heed the law and stay at least 500 yards away,” the Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia DNR added.

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