After spending much of Friday attempting to untangle a humpback whale wrapped in a fishing gear near the Balboa Pier, authorities hoped to continue trying to free the whale today in San Diego.
Around noon on Friday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol received a call regarding a whale tangled in at least 250 feet of Dungeness crab nets and buoys. Crews on Harbor Patrol boats and whale-watching vessels took turns monitoring the whale while waiting for a team sent by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to arrive on an inflatable boat to try to untangle it.
By Friday evening, authorities were still trying to untangle the whale, but the humpback — which had traveled south to Laguna Beach — was not making it easy. As crews worked to free the whale, it would dive deep into the water and out of sight. Rescuers were able to remove 150 feet of rope from the whale, but the whale dove away almost as soon as the team had removed it, leaving more line still attached. Much of the remaining rope is close to the humpback’s mouth, making it hard for the whale to eat. About 100 feet of line is still trailing from the giant mammal, NOAA spokesman Jim Milbury told The Associated Press, creating drag and making it harder for the whale to swim and dive.
According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group, more than 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die as bycatch every year, either from drowning or from the injuries sustained while struggling to escape.