#WhaleWeek reddit AUA: The Rising Risk of Whale Entanglement

NOAA scientists invite you to ‘Ask us anything!’ about how we're helping to save the whales
February 13, 2017
A whale entangled by discarded fishing gear.

As part of NOAA’s Whale Week 2017, NOAA scientists Jamison Smith and Ed Lyman will take your questions on reddit about whale disentanglement and what NOAA and our partners are doing to reduce risks and rescue whales in distress.

Saving the whales

Whales are becoming entangled in fishing gear and marine debris at an increasing rate and scientists are unsure why. Studies of whale body scars show that 83 percent of all right whales and 70 percent of whales overall in the U.S. have been entangled in fishing gear or other marine debris at some point in their lives. Fortunately, the efforts of whale entanglement response teams are paying off. There are endangered whales alive and reproducing today because of successful disentanglement efforts from NOAA and our partners.

About NOAA’s reddit Science AUA

  • Who: NOAA scientists Jamison Smith and Ed Lyman

  • When: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, from 1-3 p.m. ET | 10 a.m.-1 p.m. PT

  • Where:


About our scientists

Jamison Smith, National Marine Mammal Entanglement Response Program coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, serves as the emergency large whale entanglement response point of contact for the entire U.S. for this public-private partnership, which includes fisherman, conservationists, and state and federal agencies. Jamison is recognized as one of NOAA’s leading entanglement subject matter experts on the International Whaling Commission’s sub-committee focused on entanglement mitigation and entanglement response. He has assisted in the rescue of well over one hundred marine mammals (including manatees while working in Florida) and has worked on numerous collaborative research projects ranging from feeding ecology of humpback whales on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to humpback whale entanglement mitigation and response off of East Africa.

Ed Lyman, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s large whale entanglement response coordinator, works closely with NOAA Fisheries under their Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Ed has worked with NOAA, state agencies, and others in addressing large whale entanglement threat for more than 23 years in Alaska, the east and west coasts, and Hawaii. He helps NOAA and others to coordinate a community-based network to provide safe and authorized response to entangled large whales. These response efforts, along with efforts of fishermen, scientists, and managers, gain valuable information that one day may reduce entanglements and their impacts.

What you can do to help

Watch this video to learn how to properly report instances of humpback whale entanglement for the Hawaiian Islands region. Whale season runs from November through April.