California: Efforts On To Rescue Entangled Blue Whale Trapped In Fishing Line

Rahul Srinivas - Author
By

Jun. 28 2016, Updated 8:28 a.m. ET

Efforts are on to rescue a huge blue whale entangled in a fishing line off the California coast, KTLA reports. The whale, believed to be more than 80 feet in length, was spotted near Dana Point last weekend. The entangled whale was first spotted by sailors on board a whale-watching vessel.

The animal came to their notice because as seasoned whale watchers, they were aware that blue whales rarely come to the surface. Even when they do, only a part of the giant animal’s head is visible. In this case however, the body of the whale was visible which was not normal. Upon closer inspection, the sailors noticed that a fishing line, nearly 200 feet long was trailing from the whale’s tail. Sensing trouble, the group immediately reported the sighting to local authorities.

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According to reports a team of rescuers from Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, NOAA and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Beach are trying to rescue the whale.

A YouTube video was posted by Capt. Dave’s on Monday which showed the entangled blue whale. Capt. Chuck Gathers with Capt. Dave’s said the following.

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“Who knows how much weight it is? But to put a blue whale’s tail underwater that far, it had to be quite a bit of weight.”

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Meanwhile, according to Mike Milstein, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is very rare for a blue whale to get entangled in fishing lines. This is because these animals tend to stay away from the shore.

Of late, however, there has been a steady increase in the number of blue whale entanglements near the California coast. According to Federal data cited by the Orange County Register, there were a record number of whale entanglement incidents in 2015. Last year, there were more than 61 separate incidents of whale entanglements off the west coast of the U.S. Of these, 48 reports were confirmed. Most of these incidents, nearly 57, happened off the California coast. We at the Inquisitr had also reported about a few of them last year.

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NOAA, which has been keeping a tab of whale entanglements since 1982 adds that this is much higher than the previous figure of 32 – which incidentally, happened just two years ago- in 2014. If we are to go by current trends, it is quite likely that the number of such cases would only increase in 2016. So far, more than 40 whales have been entangled in fishing lines this year – and we are only in the sixth month of the year.

According to experts, the reason for the sudden spike could be because these large mammals have started swimming towards the north.

It was in May that The California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a move to prevent whales from getting entangled, asked Dungeness crab fishers to avoid areas that are frequented by humpback whale areas. They also suggested to minimize the use of trailer buoys.

Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived – larger than even the biggest dinosaurs. Blue whales could grow up to 30 meters (98 feet) in length.

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The largest specimens have been known to weigh over 173 tonnes (191 short tons). Currently, between 10,000–25,000 blue whales are known to inhabit the planet. Incessant hunting in the early 20th century nearly brought these gentle giants to the verge of extinction — until they were listed as protected species in 1966.

[Photo by AP Photo/Nick Ut]

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