An entangled blue whale off the coast of California still has not been located by rescue officials after hours of searching by sea and by air.
The 80-foot whale was first spotted on Friday near Santa Catalina Island. Because the waters were so rough, however, rescuers could do nothing but tie a buoy to the mammal so that they could more easily find it the next day. In the overnight hours, the buoy slipped off, making it very hard for the whale to be found.
According to the Associated Press, several people were involved in the search effort this weekend and will continue searching today.
“[Peter Wallerstein, president of the nonprofit group Marine Animal Rescue] said that while rescuers have untangled smaller gray whales caught in fishing nets, it was the first time anyone in California has seen an entangled blue whale and rescuers want to proceed cautiously. ‘We haven’t had experience with such a large animal,’ he said. ‘One flip of the tail could kill you and knock your boat out.’”
The entangled blue whale was first spotted by Capt. Dan Salas of Harbor Breeze Cruises, according to KTLA.
“We noticed that the whale wasn’t quite acting like a typical blue whale. So, when we got a little closer we noticed it was trailing a line behind it. And we didn’t know at the time if it was a net, or a fishing trap,” said Salas.
He explained that he notified the Coast Guard straight away. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was then called. Shortly after, the whale was located, and rescuers saw that the large mammal was caught up in about 200 yards of line.
“It’s in pretty good condition. It looks a little thin. It’s swimming really good. They can move pretty quick… They travel long distances in a short period of time,” said Wallerstein.
The entangled blue whale could die if not freed soon.
“The whale was spouting, swimming on the surface and occasionally diving. It appeared healthy, if a little thin but the huge animal cannot drag the line forever, Wallerstein said. ‘Eventually it’s going to get tired out and die,’ he said.
Blue whales can grow to be 100 feet in length and weigh 200 tons, making them the largest species to ever live, according to the Associated Press.
Anyone who spots the entangled blue whale is asked to call 877-SOS-WHALE. Many hope that this whale is located and freed today.
[Photo by NOAA Fisheries (TBjornstad 11:19, 18 April 2007 (UTC)) via Wikimedia Commons]