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Whale rescuers untangle 45-ton humpback from fishing line

After more than a week entangled in fishing line off of Hawaii's Big Island, a humpback whale is now free, thanks to the efforts of workers from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

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This image provided by NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program shows a camera on pole with flying line cutter knife making the last cut to free the whale. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Saturday that its craft got within 10 feet of the mammal a day earlier and the crew used a pole equipped with a knife to saw the line free. Ed Lyman of the sanctuary says several hundred feet of line was cut away. Pictured from left: Ed Lyman and Grant Thompson.

NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program/AP

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Officials say a 45-ton humpback whale entangled with fishing line in Hawaii waters for more than a week is finally free.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Saturday that its craft got within 10 feet of the mammal a day earlier and the crew used a pole equipped with a knife to saw the line free.

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Ed Lyman of the sanctuary says several hundred feet of line was cut away.

West Hawaii Today reports that when the 45-foot-long whale swam free, all line but a small piece lodged in a wound was off. Lyman says that the fragment will fall away as the wound heals.

The entangled whale was first spotted Feb. 13 off the Big Island's Kona Coast.

Experts say such entanglements could result in drowning, starvation, infections, and increased susceptibility to ship strikes.