A Canadian lobster fisherman who has bravely helped in the rescue of dozens of whales after they have become entangled in fishing nets was killed just moments after a successful rescue to free a whale. Joe Howlett, a resident of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, had been on a rescue mission on Monday to help free a north Atlantic whale heavily tangled in fishing rope.
According to the Mirror, on Monday, Howlett had been on board a Canadian government vessel along the Gulf of St. Lawrence when the whale swam away from the rope and “responded in a way that ultimately killed Joe.” The mission had been described as an urgent situation in the past month when seven north Atlantic right whales had been spotted floating lifelessly in the area. The world population of right whales has been estimated to be only 525; an estimated five whales have died in recent weeks from different reasons.
At the time of Howlett’s death, reports state he had just freed the whale:
“They got the whale totally disentangled and then some kind of freak thing happened and the whale made a big flip,” described Mackie Green of the Campobello White Rescue Team. “Joe definitely would not want us to stop because of this,” Green continued. ‘This is something he loved and there’s no better feeling than getting a whale untangled, and I know how good he was feeling after cutting the whale clear.”
In 2002, Howlett launched the whale rescue, and for the past 15 years has used his vast experience of knots and ropes to set the whales free. Described by the federal fisheries department as an “irreplaceable member of the whale rescue community,” he will be missed.
Rest in peace Joe Howlett.
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