A disturbing new report out of Canada shows that whales, no matter what their species, can be extremely dangerous.
A veteran whale rescuer was killed by the whale he was trying to rescue from commercial fishing gear on Monday, and now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is halting whale rescuing efforts until further notice. Joe Howlett, who was 59 and from Canada, was trying to cut a North Atlantic Right Whale free after it had gotten tangle in commercial fishing gear off of the coast of New Brunswick.
While no official cause of death has been confirmed, it is believed he was hit by the whale shortly after being cut free and it started to swim away. It shows that even though whales are docile creatures that show no aggression to humans normally, they are still huge animals that can do serious damage when one tries to disentangle them from a net.
Howlett co-founded the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, and he also worked as a lobster fisherman. He was definitely not a rookie in handling and rescuing whales, showing how dangerous the work can be even for professionals.
“It is with sadness that I offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Joe Howlett,” Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in a statement. “Mr. Howlett was a member of a non-governmental organization, Campobello Whale Rescue, who tragically lost his life yesterday while taking part in a rescue operation to disentangle a North Atlantic Right whale off the coast of New Brunswick.
“Taking part in whale rescue operations requires immense bravery and a passion for the welfare of marine mammals. 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.”