Training and Tools to help entangled marine mammals

WHTG is working to help entangled animals, and the people who want to free them

  • Training rescuers worldwide
  • Making equipment accessible for response organizations
  • Advancing rescue and disentanglement methods
  • Documenting causes of entanglements
  • Working to reduce marine debris

Improved tracking to expand animal rescue

Worldwide every year thousands of marine mammals become ensnared or entangled in debris like fishing nets, line and traps. These can have population-level effects:  it’s estimated that at least 1% of the California sea lion and up to 8% of the Gray seal population may be impacted by entanglements. Unable to remove the debris themselves, an animal will likely die if we don’t intervene.

Despite the entanglements, most marine mammals are still able to swim and dive, making them difficult to catch. To capture these animals, we often have to use remote sedation (commonly known as a tranquilizer dart), to sedate and capture them.

In response to this issue and the needs of rescue organizations, we developed an acoustic tracking dart to improve our ability to track and recover darted animals. As a result we have significantly improved the success and safety of capturing these animals, ultimately reducing the number of animals affected.

Given the global impact of these entanglements, our goal is to deliver the necessary equipment and training to groups worldwide helping to sustain disentanglement operations in their region. Our approach is to:

  • Deliver in-person disentanglement method trainings to animal rescue groups
  • Reduce the cost of equipment associated with disentanglement,
  • Provide the necessary equipment to trained rescuers worldwide,
  • Continue development of additional methods of disentanglement,
  • Document causes of entanglement worldwide, and
  • Work with industry and government representatives to reduce marine debris.

For more information on the darting technique we developed, check out our recent publication:

If you would like more information on our training program, or need help with entangled animals, please contact us.