Entanglements and ship strikes have been identified by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as the leading cause of mortality to large whales in the United States. Entanglements in pot/trap fisheries are the most common source of injury and mortality to humpback whales, while ship strikes are the most common source of injury to blue whales. Point Blue has been working in partnership with NOAA to help reduce deadly ship strikes to large whales along the US West Coast, particularly California.  Point Blue now wants to protect whales from entanglements off California, particularly lead disentanglement efforts in the Sonoma-Mendocino area, just north of the largest pot/trap fishery area in California.  Point Blue’s work will address the two leading causes of large whale mortality helping the recovery of whales along the US West Coast.

Whale Alert - West Coast

Whale Alert—West Coast is a partnership formed by Point Blue Conservation Science, The Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries, and Conserve.IO, working in coordination with the International Fund for Animal Welfare to help prevent endangered whales from being injured or killed by commercial vessel strikes in the increasingly busy shipping lanes off the West Coast, particularly off California.

Read news coverage on this exciting topic.

Our goal is to ensure the conservation and recovery of these magnificent animals that grace our coastline by engaging nature lovers, fishers, and mariners in collecting near “real time” data on where they are.

Download the Spotter Pro app if you are a trained naturalist who works regularly with a whale-watching business and wants to contribute to our West Coast-wide efforts to reduce ship strikes to whales.

Download  the Whale Alert 2.0 app if you are a whale-watching enthusiast and want to help our efforts to reduce ship strikes to whales.

Download our brochure and species guide with a description of our effort that includes whale profiles.

Visit the Whale Alert- West Coast website to learn more and get involved.

Press Release: Point Blue and National Marine Sanctuary scientists field-test the beta version of a new "Whale Spotter" app

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Whale Disentanglement

From 2009 to 2013, entanglements and vessel strike-related injuries and mortality have affected a total of 121 large whales from California to Washington (~24 whales each year). The number of entangled whales in California appears to be increasing, where there was on average 8 reports per year from 2000-12 compared to 61 entanglement reports in 2015.

Point Blue will protect large whales from entanglements by developing a fully functional large whale disentanglement team to lead response along the Sonoma-Mendocino coast. Our vision is to help create an effective response team by expanding the US West Coast large whale disentanglement network in the Sonoma-Mendocino region.

Core to our strategy is to reach out to the communities from Point Arena to Bodega Bay.  We will conduct an outreach campaign to increase awareness among commercial fishers, mariners, and conservation organizations. Sharing of information and collaboration with current and future partners will allow us to make the biggest impact by building on efforts to modify fishing gear, develop take reduction plans, and establish guidelines for seasonal fishing closures among other advancements.

Overseen by NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) under permit #18786, the team will primarily respond to entangled whales along the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. We collaborate with other official groups within the MMHSRP when needed as it takes many partners and persons to fill all roles required to successfully disentangle a whale.

To report an entangled whale please call the hotline number (877)-SOS-WHALe (767-9425). You can also download a response and reporting card here.

Our partners in this effort:

To get involved, contact Ryan Berger, Farallon Program Biologist at rberger@pointblue.org or 415-367-7482. 

Read Ryan Berger's recent article about his connection to whales in our latest quarterly newlsetter.


Use this card to report entangled whales

Whale Entanglements off California Fact Sheet

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