An entangled Pacific gray whale that eluded rescuers a week ago off Southern California was spotted Tuesday morning off Central California in a remote area about halfway between Morro Bay and Monterey.
The 40-foot whale was discovered April 17 off Laguna Beach with thick rope, presumably some kind of fishing gear, wrapped around its mouth and pectoral areas (whale is pictured above).
Three colored buoys were attached to the fishing gear, and rescuers managed to cut away some of the rope, but darkness fell and an extensive search effort the next day failed to relocate the mammal.
Monica DeAngelis, a marine mammal biologist with NOAA Fisheries, said Tuesday that a private citizen reported spotting the whale at about 8:30 a.m. off Gorda Point, about 50 miles from the nearest large ports at Morro Bay to the south, and Monterey.
DeAngelis said an attempt is being made to assemble a rescue team and that weather assessments are being made in advance of an approaching storm. She asks boaters and people on land to keep an eye out for the whale, which is still trailing the buoys, and to telephone (562) 980-3232 with sighting information.
The person who spotted the whale said it was surfacing frequently, perhaps a sign that it's tiring.
If it continues traveling to the north, as expected, it could be close to Monterey on Wednesday or Thursday. Perhaps then, if the weather cooperates, rescuers can find the whale and cut away all or at least most of the remaining fishing gear.
This is the third gray whale to have been discovered entangled off Southern California in the past five weeks.
-- Image showing entangled gray whale last week off Southern California is courtesy of Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari. Image is protected by copyright laws.