Southern California boaters are asked to be on the lookout for a gray whale that was the focus of a disentanglement effort on Tuesday off Orange County, and is still trailing commercial fishing gear (some footage can be seen above).
After the whale was spotted during the afternoon, a crew from Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari helped to keep track of the whale's movements while a disentanglement team from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and other agencies, arrived to try to free the mammal from commercial fishing gear.
The following recap is from Monica DeAngelis, a marine mammal specialist with NOAA Fisheries:
"The team assessed the animal, per their training and recommendations from NOAA, and decided it was safe to attempt to disentangle the animal. The team successfully attached three buoys (two large white and one medium orange) to the gear entangling the whale. They managed to cut away much of the trailing gear before dark.
"The crew indicated that the line was entangling the pectoral and the mouth of the animal. It's estimated that the animal may have been trailing about 100-150 feet of gear. The animal is a gray whale, assessed to be healthy, adult, and approximately 40 feet long.
"The entanglement is estimated to be a fairly new injury, and the crew was extra cautious as the location of the entanglement poses the highest risk to the rescue team."
The whale was last seen swinning in a southerly direction. As of late Wednesday morning, DeAngelis said, it had not been re-sighted. If anyone spots the whale they're encouraged to call the Pacific Marine Mammal Center at (949) 494-3050, or DeAngelis at (562) 980-3232.
This is the third known gray whale entanglement in the past month. Gray whales are continuing their migration from Baja California breeding grounds to Arctic feeding grounds. Many of the whales passing through Southland waters now are mothers with calves.