Local News

May 7, 2014 8:59 PM by LiLi Tan, KSBY News

Entangled humpback whales in danger on Central Coast

The Whale Entanglement Team sets off for the Channel Islands Thursday morning to rescue one of three entangled humpback whales on the Central Coast.

W.E.T. has been tracking the whale from Monterey Bay by satellite buoy to Santa Barbara, attributing the slower rescue efforts on the weather.

There have been gusts of up to 30 mph Wednesday and 40 mph Tuesday.

"We're getting flapped around because we're in 30 knot winds. We're out there in a 15 foot rubber raft and it's not pleasant," said lead responder Pieter Folkens.

There are two other entangled humpback whales, one that was spotted in Pismo Beach and the other spotted first in Monterey Bay. Responders say whales are migrating north from Mexico, which is coinciding with crabbing season. The humpback that's currently in Santa Barbara was caught up in crab pots.

Tuesday, surfers spotted one entangled humpback whale moving north from Pismo to Shell Beach.

"The our spotter lost track. With the weather it's been very breezy. We're got a lot of white caps. It's very difficult to spot anything out there when we've had really rough seas," Lisa Harper Henderson, of the Marine Mammal Center, said.

Rescue teams hope the winds drop towards the end of the week so more people can be out on the water to spot the other two entangled whales before they're in danger.

"They can shake off the gear themselves, or we can find them and remove it. But one possibility is they can die," Folkens said.

Folkens says that if people spot a whale that seems lethargic, it may have something stuck on its fins or tail. He says to stay at least 100 yards away, but try and take a picture of it or at least keep an eye on it while you call the Coast Guard or the whale rescue hotline, 877-SOS-WHALE.

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