PORTUGAL COVE-ST. PHILIP’S, N.L. — Thousands of whales are arriving for the summer feeding season off Newfoundland, and the federal government is hiring help to free those that get caught in fishing gear.
It’s offering a four-month contract starting Aug. 1 for a 24-hour emergency service for marine animals that are tangled, stranded or in trouble.
Ottawa funds such efforts each year as the province records more tangling incidents than any other part of the country.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada says about 50 incidents in each of the last two years have been reported, but it’s not clear how many whales have died.
Many incidents are not officially reported.
Wayne Ledwell has led the 24-hour assistance program since 2001 with his non-profit group Whale Release and Strandings based in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, N.L., west of St. John’s.
He says fishing gear is still a major threat to humpback whales in particular because of their size and high numbers.