Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Crews Unable to Find Gray Whale Tangled in Fishing Net

SAN ONOFRE, Calif. (KTLA) -- Rescue crews have been unable to find a gray whale tangled in fishing net, last seen in the waters off Orange County.

Authorities sent up Coast Guard helicopters on Wednesday to try to locate the whale, but had no luck.

The mammal was last spotted off the coast of San Onofre.

The older 40-foot whale was first spotted in Laguna Beach on Tuesday heading south along the coastline.

The animal is towing 50 to 100 feet of fishing line from its left pectoral fin, according to Melissa Sciacca, director of development at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Rescuers also found that there was more fishing line entangled in the whale's mouth.

They managed to attach three inflatable buoys to the older whale, who appears to be in good health.

The whale fought against rescuers, unaware that they were trying to help.

"This whale, I think, was letting us know we were a little bit too close," said Dana Friedman, of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

"He smacked our boat and we felt it. We saw this whale shaking his tail in a side-to-side fashion, which is something they do if they want to use their tail as a weapon."

They were able to free a portion of the line on Tuesday, but then they had to suspend the rescue operation for the night.

Marine experts said the fact that the whale is swimming south is concerning, because at this time of year, Gray whales migrate north.

Last month, two gray whales also got tangled up in netting off the Orange County coast.

Both were rescued, but one may have later died.

The California gray whale is a protected species.


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