An entangled humpback whale was rescued in San Diego over the weekend. The massive creature had become ensnared in a fishing net.
The humpback whale rescued took two days to complete, with rescuers frantically working to cut away the fishing net that was entangled around the whale, MSN reports. A SeaWorld rescue team was ultimately able to cut more than 230 feet of rope, which held the adult sea creature around its tail, fins, and mouth.
The entangled humpback whale was found struggling in the Newport Beach area on Friday. Rescuers caught up with the whale when it reached La Jolla Cove later the same afternoon.
The distressed whale was first spotted 45 miles south of Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, entangled in what appeared to be lobster traps from mouth to tail.
“Willy, freed”: Calif. rescuers manage to free humpback whale entangled in hundreds of feet of fishing line: https://t.co/ds3vTU4Lqn
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 1, 2015
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) crew attempted to rescue the entangled humpback whale on Friday. The National Marine Fisheries Service crew was able to only cut away about 100 feet of the fishing net before the frightened whale was able to retreat to deeper waters, NewsMax notes.
Entangled humpback whale rescued off the coast of San Diego
The nearly 50-foot-long humpback whale reportedly surfaced approximately 60 miles down the coast Saturday afternoon. The SeaWorld rescue team caught up with the whale and worked to cut away the fishing line for three hours.
— Blake McCoy (@BlakeNBC) November 1, 2015
“We hope we gave this whale a second chance at life,” San Diego Marine Park representative Kelly Terry told the media.
The San Diego humpback was just one of approximately 50 whales NOAA crews have worked to help rescue since January. Marine officials will reportedly look over the fishing net for any identifying markers in an attempt to locate the owners of the line.
“The SeaWorld rescue team believes they were able to cut enough of the gear off of the whale for it to swim away and survive,” Terry added during an interview with KABC-TV.
The whale rescued over the weekend swam away with a little bit of fishing net still attached to to its body, but is expected to be alright.
“We need to be realistic with regards to the ultimate outcome for this animal,” SeaWorld representative Dave Koontz, stated “While a significant amount of line was removed from the whale yesterday and today, there is still line in its mouth.”
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, whale entanglements in fishing lines have become a growing problem. Statistics from the National Marine Fisheries Service reveal that at least 30 unique reports of whale entanglements in the waters off the West Coast doubled in 2014. Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, deemed the potentially deadly issue “heartbreaking.” She also noted that crabbing lines have also become a major problem for marine life.
“There are simple, common-sense solutions that will protect the whales, and we’re calling on the state to manage this fishery to protect whales,” attorney Kilduff said. “We want to see meaningful changes to address this growing problem before the next crab season begins.”
Humpback whales are a species of the baleen whale. The enormous whales are one of the larger rorqual species. Adult males of the species weigh approximately 66,000 pounds and can grow to 42 feet long during their lifespan. This variety of whale typically lives about 45 to 50 years.
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