Fishing off of Cape Cod on Tuesday April 19, 2011, these pictures were taken from fishing vessel Osprey during an observed mid-water pair trawl trip for sea herring. No marine mammals were injured during the fishing trip. The injuries in these images are of unknown origin any mention of potential causes by the Author is pure speculation. Welcome once again to Foto-Friday.
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As many of you already know my name is JJ and I currently serve as engineer on F/V Osprey a 120 foot midwater trawler based in Gloucester Massachusetts. I also relief engineer on our partner boat Western Venture a 165 foot vessel. The mid-water sea herring fishery that I am currently participating in is a heavily observed and much maligned fishery that is being regulated into extinction. the sad fact is it is an extremely effective and low impact fishery. With an extremely low rate of accidental and incidental catch it is one of the cleanest fisheries on the planet and provides some of the poorest people on the globe with protein in situations where they might not otherwise get it.
On Tuesday an air survey of the waters around Cape Cod revealed over a hundred humpback whales there and as my pictures show Atlantic White sided Dolphins have joined them. The sea herring in the water there are full of some kind of feed so speculation about some kind of plankton in the water is confirmed. We only made one tow due to the state of the herring (feedy does not sell very good due to issues with storing them. I was really enjoying taking pictures of the humpbacks and did not notice the injuries they had until I was reviewing the images later in an attempt to identify the tail image whale.
As far as what I think could have happened to the injured whales..... My first thought was the Cape Cod fixed gear sector fishermen because they leave so much gear behind. Lost gill nets and long lines are extremely harmfull to the creatures of the sea and can cause all kinds of injury. In the past there used to be the occasional trawl vessel to clean up all of the lost crap but now it is just building up in the water off of the Cape. I may just be doing what everyone else does and looking for a fisherman to blame instead of thinking but the only other thing is....
Corexit. These whales are highly migratory and have probably swam through areas that have been polluted by the big spill. The smaller lesions and stuff that I did not have the room in the photo essay for do kind of point toward contamination. As we fish less and drill / pollute with oil more I wonder how the whales will be impacted. The ocean they swim in is already far more acidic due to high levels of carbonic acid and I think that has to have some effect on healing. Hopefully the marine biologists will figure these things out.
The last picture is new and shows an awful head wound, kind of looks like the whale has been run over by a boat.
As far as my entanglement theory goes.... I guess it isn't that far fetched.