Somewhere off California, making its way north, is a juvenile gray whale that was freed Saturday night from nearly 50 feet of monofilament gill-net that had become wrapped around its fluke (see video below).
The imperiled whale was spotted Friday afternoon off Dana Point, and is free thanks to the admirable effort of a trained disentanglement team led by Dave Anderson of Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari.
Volunteers spent the overnight hours keeping track of the whale's movements via a lighted buoy attached to the net. The team, with the permission of NOAA Fisheries, spent all day Saturday cutting the net's ropes, which threatened to sever the whale's fluke.
The whale broke free of the net just before dark. Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a gray whale researcher, said the mammal was emaciated and it remains unclear whether it will be able to regain its strength or find enough sustenance to survive the rest of its migration from Baja California to Arctic feeding grounds.
The whale was named "Bart" in honor of Peter Bartholomew, who babysat the whale in the overnight hours. Those involved in the disentanglement effort were Capt. Tom Southern, Mark Tyson, Steve Plantz, Barry Curtis, Mike Johnson, and Dana Friedman and Scott Davis from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
With Bartholomew on whale baby-sitting duty were Hank Davis and Gary Weiberg.
Interestingly, Capt. Dave has just published a coffee table book titled "Lily, A Gray Whale's Odyssey," which tells the saga of another gray whale that Anderson helped rescue years earlier.
(For a more detailed report visit GrindTv.com.)
-- Image shows rescuers cutting some of the last of the netting from the gray whale before it broke loose to regain its freedom.