The U.S. Coast Guard says a large whale entangled in commercial crab fishing gear and a weather buoy mooring needed to be rescued in early July off Point Reyes.
According to the Coast Guard, the humpback whale was in distress with multiple lines wrapped around it when it was spotted on July 9 by a crew member of the Cascadia Research Collective.
The Marine Mammal Center, NOAA Large Whale Entanglement Response Team and the U.S. Coast Guard joined forces with the Research Collective to free the whale about 40 miles off Point Reyes on July 10.
NOAA says they were able to identify the crab fishing gear as originating from Washington state. NOAA says, once entangled, whales can carry gear for several months and over long distances.
“This entangled whale was very far offshore and provided many challenges to the team,” said Justin Viezbicke, NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator. “We simply could not have freed this whale if it hadn’t been for the Coast Guard’s assistance in providing long-range transportation and the trained volunteers who dropped everything to respond to this event.”
It took several hours to safely cut the whale free. According to the news release, it was last seen safely swimming away from its rescuers. NOAA says it's unknown how the whale is doing now.
NOAA is investigating the entanglement.