LOS ANGELES — Rescuers in a small boat chased a migrating gray whale along the coast of Southern California for hours Thursday before they were able to cut off fishing traps, lines and debris wrapped around its tail.
The whale was spotted near Redondo Beach on Thursday morning, and rescue crews went out to meet it.
The disentanglement team would speed up, position its boat directly behind the whale, and then try to catch the tangle with a long rod with a blade on top. The first half dozen attempts failed, said Kelli Lewis, education director of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, who watched the rescue from a trailing Los Angeles County Lifeguard boat.
“As soon as he got the blade in and cut through it, the net and the drag from the buoy, everything popped off and the whale dove. Everybody cheered,” Lewis said.
The team was able to recover the tangled mass and identified it as gear used in lobster or crab traps, with a long line attached and a flotation device at the top.
It was impossible to tell how long the whale had been tangled in the gear, Lewis said. The whale was a sub-adult, she said, somewhere between a first-year calf and a full-grown adult.