December 10, 2014

Marine Life Studies
Make a Whale Smile Campaign
November 2014 – February 27, 2015

As we watch the last of the entangling lines slip off the whale, we are struck with the realization that we just relieved suffering and probably saved the life of this innocent creature. It is particularly gratifying when a humpback whale we disentangled is re-sighted actively feeding, doing well, and recovering from its severe injuries. 


Twenty to 80% of large whales show signs of entanglement in fishing gear or marine debris. A lucky few throw the gear or are disentangled by trained and permitted rescue teams. For every entangled whale reported there are many more that go unreported, struggling unnoticed and suffering or even dying from damage to fins and flukes.

Monterey Bay-based Marine Life Studies and the Fluke Foundation are fully aware of the 2014_0914_EntangledMn_linethroughmouthScreen Shot ofVideo_MMHRSP_CROP_smrole these intelligent marine mammals play in maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity in the ocean. These groups took action to rescue whales by convening a response team in 2008 – the Whale Entanglement Team, known as WET. WET is a group of over 30 professionals assembled and trained for the purpose of disentangling whales. The authority of this group is under the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program permit. Most of WET’s core members have direct affiliations with other conservation organizations. The rescue team responds to entangled whales from San Luis Obispo to the Oregon border, and is available to assist in other locations as needed.

You can help support WET’s initiatives:

PStap141029_WETfr7865_Mn_RescueBoat_vert_MMHRSP_crop_sm1. Report injured, entangled, or ship-struck whales to the 24/7 hotline at (877) SOS-WHALE (767-9425) or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH-16. Stand by at a safe and legal distance until responders arrive.

2. Follow Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies on Facebook and share their posts.

3. Consider participating in the Make a Whale Smile Campaign and becoming a supporter of this rescue effort. During the months of November 2014 – February 2015, your contributions will be matched 20% by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation Charity Match.

Marine Life Studies launched its Make a Whale Smile Campaign during the November opening of its Ocean Literacy Series art and science installation The Ocean – Our Life Support System, now running at the Museum of Monterey at the Stanton Center. The Make a Whale Smile Campaign gives voice to the innocent whales whose lives are threatened by entanglements off the West coast of California. The Ocean – Our Life Support System is a five-exhibit installation designed to connect the public with the importance of the ocean, the biodiversity it supports and what we need to do to protect it – the heart and lungs of the planet. The Ocean – Our Life Support System runs through January 2015. The Marine Life Studies Ocean Literacy Series connects the public with marine science research findings through traveling symposiums and documentary films.



  • Peter Vandaele says:


    I’m moving to South-Africa (Durban-area) for 1 year and next to my medical volunteersjob I would want to participate to a entaglement team if that exists there?

    Could you please contact me with local teams in S-A that you know of?

    I’m a 2-star dive-instructor and SAR-diver, with lots of experience in cold and rough waters (North-Sea!) and a big heart for wildlife!



  • Tony Oliveira says:

    A studies and a change in the design of fishing gear, has to happen…….and soon will be much better; now my question is: ARE ANYTHING BEING DONE?

    • Jerry Perezchica says:

      Tony, the scope of this issue is global, however, our Monterey, California region of collaborative partners
      have found the following work being conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
      Generally, NMFS is working to reduce bycatch of marine mammals, sea turtles and fishes. Please refer
      to this link to gain an insight into efforts being made to address this issue:

      Specific to marine mammals, one of the things NMFS does is create take
      reduction teams (TRT) which develop take reduction plans (TRP) for some
      fisheries. Here on the west coast there’s a TRT and a TRP for the CA
      large mesh drift gillnet fishery. There is a requirement for pingers and
      modifications to the fishing gear for almost two decades. There has been a
      lot of work on the East Coast related to North Atlantic right whales and
      efforts to reduce bycatch in the various east coast fisheries that interact with them.

      Jerry Perezchica
      Marine Life Studies
      Director, Ocean Literacy Series
      Monterey, CA.

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