Public encouraged to be on lookout for entangled whale - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Public encouraged to be on lookout for entangled whale

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Courtesy: Frank Brennan/DanaWharf.com Courtesy: Frank Brennan/DanaWharf.com

The search continues for an entangled whale now believed to be near Pismo or Avila Beach. 

The whale was first spotted Sunday near the Dana Point Harbor in Orange County. Since then, it's been seen five other times, with the last reported sighting at the Goleta Pier two days ago. 
The gray whale has a pink net with black floats and green lines around its tail. 

Experts believe it's traveling somewhere between one-and-a-half to two knots. 

"So it's a relatively slow speed, about half or less speed of the average whale but it does have that fishing gear wrapped on its fluke," said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, Director of the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project. 

Right now, it's important that it's spotted, specifically in the Pismo or Avila Beach region, so rescue crews in the Monterey area can be prepared for its arrival. As of 4:45 p.m. Friday, experts believed it was in the Pismo Beach area. 

"That will be the best chance to help untangle this whale is when it gets to Monterey Bay," said Schulman-Janiger.

New legislation has been introduced to help entangled whales like this one. 

"We do see this every year and, in fact, last year was the highest number of entanglements and the year before was the second highest," Schulman-Janiger said. 

Just last year, 71 whales were reported entangled along the California coast.

Senate Bill 299 would create an emergency grant program for authorized organizations that respond to entangled mammals. 

"We don't think it's in imminent danger of dying this moment, but this is a big drag and the whale has to swim 5,000 to 7,000 miles from Mexico up to Alaska to the feeding ground," concluded Schulman-Janiger.

If the net is not removed, the whale could potentially lose its tail. 

Experts believe it will arrive in Monterey by Monday or Tuesday. A handful of boats and at least a dozen trained professionals are on standby. 

If you spot this entangled whale, do not approach it. Instead, you are urged to call the NOAA Fisheries Hotline at 1-877-SOS-WHALE. Remember your location and the time of day. 

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