Federal officials say last year was slightly worse than average for the entanglement of large whales, which is a major threat to their populations.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Thursday on the subject. The agency says the number of cases nationally was 76, and that 70 entanglements involved live animals, while the rest were dead. The 10-year average is closer to 70 entanglements.
The agency says about 70 percent of the confirmed cases were attributable to fishing gear, such as traps, nets and fishing line.
NOAA says entanglements happened along all U.S. coasts except for the Gulf of Mexico. Entanglement is a major concern for jeopardized species such as the North Atlantic right whale. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium estimates that about 411 of the whales remain.