Science

Fisherman killed by whale's 'big flip' moments after rescuing it from net

Fisherman killed by whale's 'big flip' moments after rescuing it from net”

The Guardian reports that Howlett, a lobster fisherman with two kids, had rescued another North Atlantic right whale just days before, bringing his total over the past 15 years or so to about 24.

Green was not on the boat, but said he was told the 59-year-old veteran fisherman was hit by the whale just after it was cut free and started swimming away.

He founded the Campobello Whale Rescue Team in 2012, and had participated in the rescue of about two dozen whales.

In a statement, he said: "We have lost an irreplaceable member of the whale rescue community".

While their findings are still preliminary and don't explain why the deaths have seemingly occurred within such a short time frame, they found signs of severe blunt trauma and bruising on two of the whales, suggesting collision with a vessel, while the third had been tangled in fishing gear for weeks.

"This is something he loved and there's no better feeling than getting a whale untangled, and I know how good he was feeling after cutting that whale clear". He was killed just after he had helped disentangle the whale he was in the process of rescuing.

'There are serious risks involved with any disentanglement attempt.

The animal was a North Atlantic right whale - an endangered species that may grow to about 15m (50 feet) in length and weigh up to 70 tonnes.

He said Howlett was the skipper of the research vessel Sheila, which was used to study right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Mr. Howlett's notable experience and contribution to whale rescue include his very recent and critical role in successfully freeing an entangled whale on July 5.

"He was very committed to this and he was very concerned about the state of the oceans", Conway said.

According to the Canadian Press, Howlett was a local lobster fisherman based in Campobello, New Brunswick. He told CBC News: "There's only 850 people here on Campobello Island now and Joe was a very lively character, he had a great sense of humour".

"The whole island's in mourning here..." He was always upbeat, laughing, telling jokes so the whole island's at a desperate loss ... "To the end, Joe was utterly dedicated to conservation and had helped many individual whales in the course of his career".



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