Thursday February 22, 2024

Wrangell Sentinel

Over the past three decades, 35 killer whales were entangled in fishing gear in Alaska, resulting in 25 deaths, according to a report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report from NOAA Fisheries covers documented cases from 1991 to 2022. It does not include the unusually high number of 2023 cases, in which an additional 10 killer whales were found ensnared in fishing gear — mostly bottom-trawl gear — with nine of them found dead.

That raises the total caught in gear since 1991 to 45 killer whales, with 34 dead.

The high 2023 numbers sparked a special examination by the agency.

The cases documented in the report from 1991 to 2022 involved a variety of fishing gear. Trawl gear caused 20 of the entanglements, longline gear caused 10 of them and assorted other gear was implicated in other cases.

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