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Entangled humpback whale freed of gear off Island of Hawai’i

HONOLULU (AP) — A humpback whale was freed Tuesday after it was found in a life-threatening entanglement of rope, with a bundle of gear and two buoys attached.

The whale was freed off of Kona near the Kona Airport, in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statement.

The whale was first seen late Monday. On Tuesday, after another sighting, a team responded and cut the entangling line, removing the buoys and about 100 feet (30 meters) of line and netting, NOAA said. Responders on the vessel used a hooked knife on the end of a 30-foot (9-meter) pole to get close enough to cut the line.

“While the animal is no longer entangled, the impacts of the entanglement remain. The animal was in poor condition, emaciated, and suffering physical trauma. However, it now has a much better chance of survival,” the statement said.

It’s believed that some lines remained on the whale that will be shed over time, NOAA said.

The recovered gear will be assessed to determine its origin and to reduce entanglement threats in the future.