Campobello Whale Rescue Team

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT) is a volunteer organization that consists primarily of fishermen, a biologist and other volunteers.

The CWRT, formed in 2002, have received training and experience in the use of specialized equipment to disentangle large whales from fishing gear and work with weir owners to release entrapped whales. The CWRT is licensed and permitted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct whale disentanglement and release operations in the Bay of Fundy and adjacent waters off Nova Scotia as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The CWRT supports the fishing industry and encourages stewardship of whales among fishermen and those making a living on the water. As part of their rescue program, the CWRT provides basic training for others interested in supporting the program . The CWRT work in collaboration with the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS, Halifax, NS) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Two of our team members are certified and permitted to disentangle whales in U.S. waters. We collaborate with U.S. colleagues at the Center for Coastal Studies (Provincetown, MA) Marine Animal Entanglement Response team and the U.S. Government NOAA Fisheries Service Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network.

Why is there a need for a response capability?

Whale entanglement and entrapment in fishing gear is a global problem. The CWRT is committed to responding to this issue in our region because of concern for the whales and our fishermen. Entanglements can be expensive for fishermen because of lost gear, as well as the cost and time to repair damaged gear. Whale entanglement generates considerable public concern. Fishermen recognize this and want to do their part to mitigate the problem through whale disentanglement and release programs.

Entanglements in fishing gear can range from minor to severe and are sometimes lethal for the whale. In many cases, whales break free of the gear and survive the entanglement. However, entangling lines that remain on the whale can compromise its health, ability to feed, socialize, migrate and survive.

What do you do if you see a marine mammal in distress?

1. Call - The CWRT, in associationwith the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), will respond to whale entanglements and entrapments in the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). To report marine animal emergencies, please call MARS at 1-866-567-6277 or the Canadian Coast Guard on VHF channel 16.

2. Stand by and take photographs - The CWRT will respond immediately to calls of whales found in distress, weather and time of day permitting. The team enhances mariner safety by providing a highly trained and equipped team – a safe alternative to mariners and fishermen attempting to release entangled or entrapped whales on their own. Do not try to disentangle the whale yourself. Do not cut trailing lines and buoys from the whale. The entangling gear is used by the team in the whale rescue attempt. If possible, take photographs. It is critical, for the prospect for a successful rescue, that the reporting entity stands by the entangled whale until the CWRT arrives. Without standby support, entangled whales are almost impossible to relocate. Once the CWRT arrives on scene, the entanglement will be assessed and documented. The CWRT will attempt to disentangle the whale if it is feasible and safe.

For more information (and to spread the word!), please download our CWRT pamphlet and poster.