An attempt to rescue a young gray whale tangled in fishing gear was expected to resume Thursday morning off Point Vicente on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The distressed whale was first spotted Wednesday afternoon off Newport Beach, but conditions were too rough to attempt a rescue before dark.
This is the second such effort in six days off Southern California. The first, last Saturday off Dana Point, was successful after a marathon endeavor by Capt. Dave Anderson and his entanglement team.
However, that whale, which had been dragging a large gill-net wrapped around its tail section, might be the same whale that was found dead Tuesday afternoon inside Long Beach Harbor.
The latest entangled whale, which is believed to have the rope of a lobster trap wrapped around its tail, is a sub-adult traveling with a larger whale. It was spotted Thursday at 9:10 a.m. by volunteers with the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project outside the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach and Marine Animal Rescue are collaborating on the rescue effort, with permission from the National Marine Fisheries Service. As of 10 a.m. the disentanglement team was not with the whale.
Monica DeAngelis, a marine biologist with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, said it's unusual to have two whale entanglements in the same general area in less than a week.
But she added that whale entanglements are not uncommon. In the period from 2001 through 2010 there have been 78 entanglement reports off California. Thirty-one involved humpback whales and 19 involved gray whales. The others were fin whales (four), a minke whale and unidentified species (22).