An entangled blue whale has gone missing off the coast of Southern California, and now officials are asking the public to help find the animal before it’s too late.
The 80-foot whale is caught up in about 400 feet of line with a 3-foot red buoy trailing it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The animal was spotted in the water between Los Angeles Harbor and Catalina Island, but hasn’t been spotted in close to two days now.
Rescuers spotted the whale on Friday, but couldn’t get close enough to free it from the line, so they attached the buoy in the hopes of finding it again.
“We couldn’t approach the whale safely,” said Peter Wallerstein of Playa del Rey-based Marine Animal Rescue. “We couldn’t get that close to the whale, and it got too dark to do it.”
Witnesses say the animal seems to be aware that it is entangled.
“This whale was staying right up on the surface and swimming real gentle, so we feel that the whale knows that it has a line on it,” said Captain Dan Salas with Harbor Breeze Cruises. “Hopefully the whale understood that help is on the way.”
The entangled blue whale was spotted again on Saturday night. Rescuers said they need to find the animal soon before it is hurt by the line.
“If the line runs across its mouth, it can keep the animal from from eating or cut deep into the mouth. If entangled on the fluke or dorsal or pectoral fins, it could eventually cause infection, cut, or even sever the appendage. We still don’t have a clear picture of how or where it is entangled,” NOAA Public Affairs Officer Jim Milbury told ABC News via the Canada Journal.
Freeing the whale may be difficult. Blue whales are the largest animals on earth, weighing up to 330,000 pounds and growing to the length of three school buses.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been on the hunt for the entangled blue whale, and are now asking for the public to help find the animal.
They could have some help in the matter. The whale’s story has made nationwide headlines, with stories being broadcast on networks and featured on major news sites.
Anyone who spots the entangled blue whale is asked to call (877) SOS-WHALE (767-9425), and boaters can radio the animal’s location to the Coast Guard or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
[Image via YouTube]