Fisherman killed by whale after freeing it from tangled ropes

New York Post – by Joe Vitale

He died freeing the beast he loved most.

A Canadian fisherman who saved dozens of whales after they became entangled in fishing lines and nets was killed during what turned out to be his last rescue.

Joe Howlett, 59, of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, was aboard a Fisheries Department vessel in search of a North Atlantic right whale that was caught in fishing rope near the island’s coast, according to the Canadian press.

The ill-fated rescue ended in tragedy when Howlett was struck by the whale moments after it was released from the rope and began swimming away, according to the Guardian.

“They got the whale totally disentangled and then some kind of freak thing happened and the whale made a big flip,” Mackie Green, of the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, told Canadian press.

North American right whales, which can weigh up to 79 tons, are considered an endangered species. A 2011 survey found fewer than 500 right whales in the western North Atlantic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Canada’s federal fisheries and oceans department confirmed Howlett’s death, and acknowledged that whale rescues can be “unique,” and “entangled whales can be unpredictable.”

Howlett, originally from Chester, New Brunswick, moved to Campobello Island, where he started a family and a career on the sea, according to reports.

Using his deep knowledge of knots and ropes, Howlett saved dozens of whales, working with the island rescue team, the Guardian reported.

“This is something he loved and there’s no better feeling than getting a whale untangled,” Green, who was not aboard the vessel with Howlett, told the Canadian Press. ”I know how good he was feeling after cutting that whale clear.”

“He was a great fella and he really cared about the whales,” he said.

One thought on “Fisherman killed by whale after freeing it from tangled ropes

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *