Entangled Humpback Whale Rescued From Fishing Nets Near San Diego Coast

Rescuers have managed to save the life of a large humpback whale that was trapped in fishing nets off the San Diego coast. According to the New York Post, the whale was freed on Saturday after the rescuers tried for well over two days to get the ensnared whale out of the nets. According to reports, a team of rescuers from SeaWorld finally managed to cut more than 230 feet of rope that was wrapped around the whale’s mouth, fins and the tail. The whale was finally set free somewhere near the La Jolla Cove in San Diego.

The whale was first spotted on Friday, found to have been entangled in lobster traps. It was in a desperate situation with the whale trapped completely from its mouth to tail. After first reports about the whale went out, a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attempted a rescue operation on Friday. While they were not able to free the whale completely, they did manage to get more that 100 feet of the netting before they had to stop. The distressed whale dove into deeper waters — only to surface 60 miles away the next morning.

After the whale was spotted again on Saturday afternoon, a team of divers from SeaWorld set out to rescue the whale and spent well over three hours trying to rescue the trapped mammal. They were finally successful and managed to cut off an additional 230 feet of nets from the body of the whale. A footage of the rescue attempt was also captured on video.

The whale was an adult specimen that was over 50 feet in length and, according to officials, the animal would have died had it not been rescued. The mammal is now expected to make a full recovery. Earlier, there were concerns regarding the fate of the whale, because a significant portion of the net remained in the mammal’s mouth. However, fresh reports now say that the mammal is now completely free of the nets.

It remains unclear if this rescued whale is the same creature that was rescued just a week earlier by SeaWorld divers near Santa Barbara, about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. That whale was, however, described as being a young individual. Video footage from that rescue attempt was also shared thousands of times on social media networks. We have embedded it below.

Kelly Terry, a spokesperson for the San Diego Marine Park, is hopeful that the rescued adult humpback whale gets a second chance at life. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this latest whale is among the 50 other whales that were rescued off the U.S. coast this year alone. They also add that the owner of the fishing nets could be traced using any identifying markers that they find on the nets. It is unclear if any action would be taken against the owner of the fishing nets.

Humpback whales are one of the largest species of whales, with adult specimens often measuring between 39–52 ft in length. They weigh approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). While not as large as the sperm whale and the even bigger finback whale and the blue whale, the humpback whale still wows people with its size. The humpback whale is also known to be a very “friendly” species, and are often seen swimming along with other species of whale. The species were nearly hunted into extinction until the 1960s, after which the whales were protected. However, these animals still fall prey to netting incidents and are often victims of collision with ships and large boats. However, with well over 80,000 individuals estimated to be living on earth, humpback whales have been removed off the endangered species list in 2008.

[Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images]