Friday, 6 November 2015

Rescuers work to free humpback whale from fishing line off California

The adult animal, seen off Newport Beach, was struggling to escape a potentially deadly situation as line was tangled in its mouth

Joanna Walters in New York
Saturday 31 October 2015 20.18 GMTLast modified on Saturday 31 October 201520.20 GMT

Marine experts were on Saturday trying to save a humpback whale that was struggling off the coast of California, with a length of commercial fishing line tangled in its mouth.

Rescuers were following the whale, trying to figure out if they could free it from the potentially deadly hazard. The adult humpback was off the coast of Laguna Beach, south of Los Angeles.

It was first spotted on Friday morning off Newport Beach, a few miles north, showing distress and swimming near the surface. A whale-watching boat noticed that the whale was trailing a length of the kind of line which is used to connect surface buoys to seabed lobster pots.

The Orange County sheriff harbor patrol and whale disentanglement experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were called out and spent hours on Friday tracking the whale and attempting to free it. But the distressed whale kept diving out of sight or trying to leap, despite showing increasing fatigue, according to local TV reports.

Teams managed to cut away about 150ft of rope. On Saturday, the experts were back in pursuit in inflatable boats, trying to use underwater cameras to figure out exactly how badly the whale’s mouth was entwined.

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