Whale Entanglement Team (WET)®

Latest update May 18, 2019 Started on May 18, 2015
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WET® is a group of unpaid professionals assembled and trained for the purpose of supporting large whale entanglement response. All work is directed under the authority of NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

May 18, 2015
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In The Field

May 18, 2019: The California Whale Entanglement Response Network was awarded! #Whales #WET #WhaleEntanglementTeam #California #Disentangle #WhaleRescue


The network was honored with the Dr. Susanne Lawrenz Miller Education Award on Saturday evening by the City of Los Angeles and Council District. Our Executive Director, Peggy Stap, and Strategic Planner, Jerry Perezchica attended the ceremony at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium this weekend.

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Debriefing

It's been awhile since we've updated you all since our first post about this expedition. It's been a busy 4 years since we last posted about our adventures and responses. A few accomplishments that we've had since then is as follows:


2015 - We acquired our Whale Rescue Research Vessel, a 40' Albin North Sea Cutter from Bellingham, Washington. We set the boat up there, did a few shake down days in the San Juan Islands where we got to see humpbacks, transient killer whales, harbor porpoise, Dall's porpoise and many other species. After we were sure that the boat functioned well, we took it down the coast back to our homeport, Moss Landing Harbor. We had a few rough patches of weather where we stayed in Eureka for a few days, but in the end, the trip took 10-15 days.

2016 - We printed the 4th edition of our Marine Mammal Guide, a waterproof ocean users' guide that displays all of the marine mammals of California and how to respectfully view marine mammals in the wild. We also received a grant from the Monterey County Fish and Game Advisory Commission to purchase a new GPS/Argos telemetry buoy for the Whale Entanglement Team (WET)®. A telemetry buoy is used to attach to entangled whales with trailing gear so we can find them the next few days to try and disentangle them. When we attach the telemetry to the trailing gear, fixes from the telemetry goes to the satellite and we can log online to see where the whale is so we can plan accordingly to initiate a rescue.

2017 - We printed the 5th edition of our Marine Mammal Guide.

2018 - We obtained a 4.2 WING inflatable boat designed specially for disentanglement. It was made possible by many individual donors who believe in the work we do and have a passion to help save these whales from life-threatening entanglements. We also purchased a drone for whale rescues. Often times, Monterey Bay has terrible visibility underwater, so we are unable to get good enough footage with GoPros to obtain visuals of the complexity of the entanglement on a whale. By using drones, we are able to hover above the animal and look straight down to see if we can see the makeup of lines wrapped around the distressed whale.

2019 - We installed a customized davit system on our Whale Rescue Research Vessel to carry our new 4.2 WING inflatable response boat.

We are excited for all of the new adventures this year. We have all of our equipment on our Whale Rescue Research Vessel so we can be the primary response boat to attend to a whale is distress.

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Preparation

Whale Rescue Research Vessel
The number of reported entanglements has significantly increased in central California over the last couple years. A larger, more capable vessel will enable us to carry all the equipment needed for a full response on board at all times. This will greatly reduce the response time, enabling us to save more whales from life-threatening entanglements.

Moss Landing team eying a 40-foot Albin that can be pre-loaded with positional locators, computer hardware and other equipment, and has secured two anonymous donors who will match donations up to $150,000. Stap is asking the public to chip in the rest. "No donation is too small," Stap said. "I want everyone to feel that they're helping to save whales." Check out the article: bayareane.ws/1ebqbiP

Looking Good! I've got some photos of Whiskie the Whale spotter I can put up!

Expedition Background

The professionals who volunteer their time to be a part of Marine Life Studies' Whale Entanglement Team (WET)® not only save the lives of many whales in our marine sanctuary, but also provide cutting edge changes in whale disentanglement techniques for teams across the nation. Their attention to education and outreach as well as collaboration with area scientists makes the program sustainable and a valuable asset to the greater community.


  • Brian Kieft, Software Engineer, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

More info at: WhaleEntanglementTeam.org

Accomplishments of Marine Life Studies since 2006 include: the initial team assembly, 877-SOS-WHALE phone number, printed response cards, printed marine mammal guides, a complete tool cache for Monterey Bay, additional tools for San Francisco, a response boat, a trailer, and Wet® on Wheels, that can carry all equipment including a roll-up hypalon boat with motor. In 2015 Marine Life Studies acquired a 40’ Albin North Sea Cutter, Current’Sea. This is the Whale Rescue Research Vessel, fully equipped for rapid whale rescue response located in Moss Landing, center of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In addition, Marine Life Studies acquired a new inflatable specially designed for whale disentanglement that is carried on the stern of Current’Sea. Now Current’Sea is like a whale ambulance with everything needed for a complete disentanglement.

WET® is a group of unpaid professionals (volunteers) assembled and trained for the purpose of supporting large whale entanglement response. All work is directed under the authority of NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. WET® was founded by Peggy Stap, Executive Director of Marine Life Studies and Mary Whitney, Founder of Fluke Foundation.

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