from: The Daily Triplicate, by Adam Spencer
Whale rescuers included, from left, DFG wardens Brent Chase and Matt Wells, Dr. Dawn Goley of HSU, Dr. Dennis Wood (medical director) and Robyn Walker (executive director) of Northcoast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City. Courtesy Northcoast Marine Mammal Center/Robyn Walker
Local man plays key role in saving trapped whales
Responding to sightings of an entangled whale, a team of scientists rushed to Humboldt Bay on Tuesday, but for hours they could do little more than assess the scene.
Before they could cut the gray whale free, the team had to wait for the arrival of Dr. Dennis Wood, founder and medical director of the North Coast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City.
“Whale entanglement is extremely regulated for safety issues,” said Wood, the only “primary disentangler” north of Bodega Bay. Wood has equipment and training that make him the go-to guy for wrapped-up whales. Unless another responder is authorized by a federal agency, a primary disentangler is the only person who can legally cut gear from tangled whales.
“Approaching the whale in itself is a danger,” Wood said. “With the way they move, they have the ability to capsize a boat or cause injury.”
Wood rescheduled his veterinary appointments for the day and rushed to Eureka to aid the gray whale calf wrapped up in what appeared to be a buoy and rope from a crab trap.
“Initially (the whale) was right at the mouth of Humboldt Bay, so there were concerns about it going back to the ocean,” Wood said.
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